Giants arise

Yesterday AGL opened the roads to the Silverton Wind Farm site for a special progress update.

The tour was attended by city councillors, Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF) board members and other interested parties, and took them to the base of one of the nine completed wind turbines for some perspective on the project.

Construction is going according to plan, and the site is expected to start generating and feeding power into the grid by the middle of the year, according to AGL project manager, Adam Mackett. 

He said the aim was to have everything in place before the windy season properly starts around September.

“We keep asking locals when it’s going to stop being windy, but what they said is it just gets windier in September, so we’re keen to get the work done before then,” Mr Mackett said.

“The project has been challenged by wind, but this site was selected for a wind farm so that’s to be expected,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is a fantastic marriage between the wind turbines, the land and the wind itself, and when this is all complete it will be able to power 137,000 homes.

“This may not be the largest wind farm in NSW, but it will definitely be the best.”

Broken Hill city councillors Marion Browne and Dave Gallagher joined the tour, and said that from a close look at the wind farm it was obvious just how suitable a site it was for wind-generated power.

“(The turbines) aren’t as intrusive on the landscape as I thought they might have been, that was a concern for a lot of Silverton residents,” Clr Browne said.

“Obviously you can see the turbines but it doesn’t detract from the landscape,” she said.

“It’s using a natural resource this region has, mining the wind, in effect, and it’s never going to run out.”

Once it’s up and running the Silverton wind farm will have a full generating capacity factor of about 45 per cent, meaning for 45 per cent of the year it’s generating maximum power. At other times of the year it may still generate power, but not at full capacity.

This power will first go to powering Broken Hill, with excess energy produced fed into the grid.

“The solar plant and wind farm, both of which are owned by PARF, are powering Broken Hill in a residential sense and an industrial sense, with excess generation going back into the grid,” Mr Mackett said.

“This is a huge investment, not just for Broken Hill but for NSW,” he said.

“The capital cost of the wind farm is about $450 million, which breaks down to about $65 per megawatt hour, which is very good.”

Clr Dave Gallagher agreed that the wind farm will be a great asset for Broken Hill and Silverton.

He said he had also been concerned about their visual impact at first, but after seeing them thinks they blend into the landscape well.

“Marion and I are on the Silverton Community Consultative Committee and AGL have worked very hard with the community on this project. It’s a credit to everyone involved,” Clr Gallagher said.

“We saw today just how windy it is up here and how that’s going to benefit everyone.”