The 110MW Biala wind farm in New South Wales has installed the first two out of 31 turbines for the project, which is located in the Southern Tablelands in Angus no-fan-of-wind Taylor’s federal electorate of Hume.
Developer BJCE Australia (Beijing Jingneng Clean Energy Australia) marked the completion of the first turbine on LinkedIn last week as an “exciting milestone” for the wind farm, whose development has continued through the Coronavirus lock-down.
As RenewEconomy reported here, Goldwind turbine components started making the 233km trip from Port Kembla to the site 8km east of the township of Biala in the middle of last month, just as state governments were moving to close borders and implement other strict measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.
BJCE Australia’s deputy general manager Derek Powell told RenewEconomy on Monday that two turbines had now been fully installed at the site, and that the project remained on track for commissioning to start “at the back end of May” and for the project to be completed by the end of year.
Powell said BJCE Australia and its partner on the project, Goldwind, had been “pretty proactive” about adjusting to Covid-19 restrictions and containment measures, including moving community consultations to online and digital forums, and adjusting the work schedules of fly-in-fly-out workers to comply with quarantine rules.
It had also been useful, Powell said, having the operational Gullen Range wind farm – also owned by BJCE – so close by, to share workers and expertise between the two sites.
Gullen Range is one of the earlier projects to have been developed in what has become a hot spot for wind energy – despite the best efforts of a number of local anti-wind campaigners and politicians, including the now federal energy minister, Taylor.
Back in 2014, the Goldwind-developed project was ordered by then NSW planning minister Pru Goward – also a noted opponent of wind farm development – to take down and move nine turbines because they were not constructed where the planning approval had allowed.
Once past that speed hump, however, Gullen also marked the first – but certainly not last – large-scale solar project on Australia’s main grid to be co-located with a major wind farm, when the 10MW Gullen Range solar farm was formally opened in February 2018.
BJCE’s Powell said the company was upbeat about the large-scale renewable energy prospects of Australia.
“We own and operate our own assets,” Powell said over the phone on Monday, “so we’re in for the long haul. And we think there’s a good outlook in Australia.”
Powell also noted that BJCE had yet to feel any significant impact to the supply of wind turbine components, off the back of Coronavirus shut-downs.
“We were a bit worried when the pandemic originally got started in China,” he said. “We’ve seen some minor delays, but nothing significant.”
Goldwind, which is partnering with BJCE on the Biala project, also welcomed the installation of that project’s first turbine on LinkedIn, saying it was pleased to celebrate the “significant achievement.”
In a separate post on LinkedIn, also last week, Goldwind paid tribute to “service workers globally who are keeping us safe and keeping us going – especially our crews who are Driving Our Renewable Future. Thank you!”
The Biala wind farm is expected to produce enough electricity for approximately 46,000 typical homes on an average day of wind, once it is completed.
RenewEconomy and its sister sites One Step Off The Grid and The Driven will continue to publish throughout the Covid-19 crisis, posting good news about technology and project development, and holding government, regulators and business to account. But as the conference market evaporates, and some advertisers pull in their budgets, readers can help by making a voluntary donation here to help ensure we can continue to offer the service free of charge and to as wide an audience as possible. Thank you for your support.