The 200MW Silverton wind farm near Broken Hill has finally reached full production, nearly two years behind schedule after a series of delays and grid constraints that severely curbed its output.
Silverton is owned by the Powering Australian Renewables Fund, itself a partnership between AGL Energy, QIC and the Future Fund, and was originally scheduled for completion in mid-2018. All of its 58 turbines were installed that year after construction began in 2017.
However, its output was heavily constrained by the congestion issues in the grid.
Silverton and its neighbouring 52MW Broken Hill solar farm found themselves at the end of a long stringy line and competing for access to the grid – and the problems were worsened when “system strength” issues and other problems were identified last year.
Silverton’s output was heavily constrained during the day, and five solar farms, including Broken Hill located in the West Murray region of the main grid had their output cut in half more than seven months, and the connection and full commissioning of more than a dozen projects, including Silverton, was put on hold.
Those issues were finally resolved in mid April, leading to the solar farms resuming full production, and AEMO drawing up a list of projects that would finally get approval to reach full output. Silverton, it turns out, was near the top of that list and reached full capacity after testing on Wednesday.
AGL Project Director, Adam Mackett, said all 58 turbines at Silverton are now running and generating for the grid at the project, which is located about 25kms north of Broken All in the Barrier Rangers.
“This is a landmark achievement and is expected to generate 780,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy each year – enough to power 137,000 homes,” Mackett said in a statement.
“This is one of the largest wind farms in Australia and is located in a fantastic spot for wind-generated energy. The turbines have been generating at night and now have clearance to generate in the day.
“We’d like to thank AEMO and Transgrid who have worked to resolve issues around the Western Murray constraint.The teams involved have done an amazing job in delivering this project and we thank them for their efforts.”
PARF chief executive Geoff Dutaillis said the milestone marks the completion of Powering Australian Renewables’ first development project. “It puts us on track to be a leading investor in, and owner of large-scale renewable energy assets in Australia,” he said.
PARF has a target of 1,000MW of renewable energy capacity, and is also working on the 453MW Coopers Gap wind farm in Queensland, the biggest in that state, which has begun production but is not yet at full capacity.
Mackett said the company intends to hold a community open day to mark the milestone later in the year, when the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions have been eased.
“The project is expected to increase Gross Regional Product by over $700 million during the life of the project which is a great outcome for the Far West region of NSW,” Mackett said.
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