South Australia’s largest wind farm – and Australia’s second largest – is now fully operational, after the launch on the weekend of phase 2 of the massive Snowtown Wind Farm development by New Zealand gentailer Trustpower. The plant will mean that 40 per cent of the state’s electricity needs will now come from wind and solar.
Having first turned the sod on the sight in October 2012, Trustpower officially opened the $439 million 270MW Snowtown II wind farm on Sunday with speech from SA Premier Jay Weatherill and a community event celebrating the occasion.
Located 170km north of Adelaide on the Barunga and Hummock Ranges, the new installment is situated adjacent to Snowtown I, which has been one of mainland Australia’s best performing wind farms since its 47 Suzlon wind turbines were switched on back in 2008, producing 345GWh per annum.
Snowtown II is made up of 90 3MW Siemens turbines – the German engineering giant’s cutting edge direct drive technology, which was showcased on Sunday by Australian Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, who scaled one of 80 metre high structures.
— Cadel Evans (@CadelOfficial) November 2, 2014
Eighty of these Siemens turbines have a 108 metre rotor diameter, while the other 10 have 101 metre rotor diameter. All up they are expected to produce an additional 989 GWh per annum – electricity that Origin Energy is contracted to take up.
Trustpower says it now expects the two wind farms – which run independently of each other – to produce a total combined average annual output of approximately 1,350GWh, enough to power 230,000 South Australian homes, equivalent to 10 per cent of South Australia’s total electricity consumption.
And considering the existing wind farm’s excellent capacity factor of about 42 per cent, the new Snowtown development is also expected to provide electricity at very low cost.
As we have noted before on RenewEconomy, wind energy has already been a great boon to the electricity market in South Australia, driving down energy prices and producing enough electricity to meet 43 per cent of the state’s power needs during July, and on occasions during the month providing all its electricity needs.
On Sept 30, South Australia ran most of the working day on wind and solar power, and it sent electricity prices into the negative in the middle of the day.
Speaking at the Snowtown II opening, Premier Weatherill said the plant had come on-line at a critical time for Australia’s renewable energy industry.
“This plant confirms South Australia’s commitment to being the nation’s leader when it comes to providing efficient renewable wind energy programs. It is a key platform in our plan for renewable energy to supply 50 per cent of the state’s annual power by 2025,” he said.
Trustpower CEO Vince Hawksworth, gave special thanks to the local community and land owners for what he described as “their unwavering support” of the eight-year project.
As we reported back in May, TrustPower has indeed enjoyed great success with wind power in Australia, tapping some of its best resources and winning over local landowners with a unique offer to pay owners of properties neighbouring the wind farms – as well as turbine hosts.
In December last year, the company proposed making voluntary “sliding scale” payments to property owners near its planned $700 million Palmer wind project in the Mt Lofty ranges east of Adelaide, with payments of up to $2,000 a year to be offered to property owners with a boundary within 1km, or a residence within 2kms of a wind turbine.
Unsurprisingly, the New Zealand company has also spoken out in support of Australia’s renewable energy target, with plans to develop further wind projects to help meet the RET over the next five years.
Earlier this year, the company said it had development approval applications in progress for up to 320MW at the Dundonnell wind project in Western Victoria, up to 270MW for the Palmer wind project in South Australia, up to 300MW for the Rye Park wind project and up to 500MW for another wind project, both in NSW.
“These projects are expected to be well positioned should the outcome of the current review of the Renewable Energy Target regime by the Australian Government confirm an ongoing framework that is supportive of further renewable energy investment in Australia,” it said.