ABOUT WIND FARMS
The construction timeframe depends on the project size and the number of workers deployed on site. For a 100 MW power plant, an 8 to 14-month timeframe is typical, with a peak construction period of 2 to 3 months. A large project like Kentbruck will take around 24 months to construct with a longer peak construction.
Neoen’s projects use premium quality wind turbines and battery technology provided by leading manufacturers. This is selected through a competitive process for each project. All components come with long warranty periods, wind turbines are generally warrantied for 20 to 25 years.
A wind farm will typically operate for between 25 and 30 years.
Wind turbines are designed to convert wind into mechanical energy by rotating the turbine blades. The mechanical energy is converted into electricity via a generator in the nacelle, which is sent directly to the grid. The electricity generated by the turbine is proportional to the wind speed cubed.
As an example, a wind turbine in 8m/s wind will produce about 8 times as much electricity as a wind turbine in 4m/s wind. This means the correct placement of turbines in high and consistently windy areas is important for achieving the lowest cost power generation for consumers.
Generally speaking wind turbines have a tip height of between 150 and 270 metres with approximately 500 metres between each turbine. However, this varies from project to project. Larger turbines generate more energy, are spaced further apart and have lower rotational speeds than smaller turbines.
A preliminary decommissioning management plan is part of the EPBC application submission. Wind farm equipment and materials will be disposed of in accordance with waste management obligations and will be transported off site. Repowering of the wind farm is a potential option to extend the life of the project.
A 2012 study by SKM on the economic benefits of wind farms in Australia found that, for every 50 MW in capacity, a wind farm delivered the following benefits:
- Direct employment of up to 48 construction workers, with each worker spending approximately $25,000 in the local area in shops, restaurants, hotels and other services (a total of up to $1.2 million)
- Indirect employment during the construction phase of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs and 795 nationwide jobs
Renewable energy projects are now the cheapest sources of new energy generation. Wind energy projects produce energy at less than $60 per megawatt hour. The costs of other sources of generation are:
- Existing coal: approximately $40 per megawatt hour
- Combined gas-cycle generation: approximately $75 per megawatt hour
- New coal: approximately $130 per megawatt hour
Current studies are being undertaken to identify upgrades required for the construction of Mount Hopeful Wind Farm. The final design is to be approved by Council under an Operational Works permit. The anticipated works include widening, culvert crossings upgrades, pavement upgrades, and road vertical and horizontal alignments.
Neoen pays for any electrical transmission upgrades necessary to connect and operate the project in the electricity grid. This includes construction and maintenance costs for the life of the project.
Neoen does not require government subsidies to finance its projects. We finance our projects through a combination of our own equity and long-term bank loans. However, we sometimes enter into agreements with governments or businesses to sell the power produced by our projects.
All Neoen projects meet strict State and Federal Government regulations and are assessed under these regulations. We work closely with governments to ensure we meet all legal requirements and exceed these requirements wherever possible.
Moreover, extensive surveys have been conducted by third party ecology specialist and a rigorous process is followed with the QLD state, and with DCCEEW (Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water) for the federal approval. Furthermore, careful review of all the project assumptions, methodologies and recommendations before approval is granted.
Following approval, there are reporting obligations and if any non-compliance with approval occurs, Neoen will be obligated to demonstrate how this is to be rectified. Besides, monitoring will be carried out by independent specialists.
Studies into the potential impact of wind farm developments on property prices, including by the NSW Valuer-General (2009) and Urbis (2016), have concluded there is insufficient evidence to suggest wind farms can be linked to adverse impacts on property prices.
Health & Culture
There are nearly 200,000 wind turbines installed worldwide — many of them in more densely populated areas close to houses.
Some 17 reviews of research literature conducted by leading health and research organisations from all over the world, including the World Health Organisation, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Centre, the UK Health Protection Agency and the US National Research Council, have concluded there is no published evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.
Before it can operate, a wind farm has to demonstrate that noise levels at neighbouring residences will meet strict noise limits. These limits are designed to ensure that noise from a wind farm is not intrusive for the average person.
Monitoring of dust levels during construction is a basic requirement of each project. Dust generating activities are assessed during windy conditions and are stopped and rescheduled where adequate control of dust generation cannot be achieved.
Visual observation of machinery is undertaken during site inspections in addition to daily pre-start checks which ensure all machinery has appropriate emission control devices, is in good working order and is maintained correctly.
Low flying aircraft are required to fly by sight. Wind turbines are large and clearly visible. All wind turbines and met masts will be registered with the relevant aviation authority according to aviation requirements. Moreover, CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) will assess the project as part of the state planning process. Final layout of turbines and masts will be provided to CASA, who will then update the flights maps.
Neoen will carry out a detailed assessment of the access road’s suitability and upgrade requirements including a survey of the road to accurately map out the existing road and where any upgrades or road widening may be required. Any access road to be used will need to be suitably upgraded to handle construction traffic, and Neoen will comply with obligations set out in planning conditions relating to road upgrades and maintenance. This will be done in consultation with the neighbouring landowner and regional councils. Moreover, a preliminary Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) has been prepared for the Mount Hopeful Wind Farm as part of the State’s Development Approval process.
To address this matter, Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Study will be commissioned, and actions will be taken according to the results to avoid mobile phone and internet disruptions. Neoen will comply with all obligations set out by the State in their Decision Notice, relating to pre and post construction assessments of television and radio reception strength to identify if the Project has had a negative impact, and to implement measures to address this.
SAFETY & ENVIRONMENT
Neoen engages specialist consultants to undertake detailed flora and fauna surveys to determine the ecological attributes of the land.
On all of our projects, we aim to minimise the impact on flora and fauna by designing projects to be constructed outside areas of high conservation significance and adopting control measures during the construction process. During the detailed design, wind turbines will be micro-sited to minimise the potential impact on fauna habitat with turbine heights selected to minimize the overlap between rotor swept area and bird flight heights.
Other mitigation measures include preparing management plans, identifying ‘no-go zones’ within the project site and conducting pre-clearance surveys. Neoen also consults with government departments of environment and biodiversity throughout the development, construction and operational stages of projects, as well as local non-government organisations.
Stock including sheep and cattle take a couple of days to get used to wind turbines, and then are very comfortable with them – they rub up against turbines and use the shade from the towers during summer.
While wind farms are sometimes accused of threatening birds, an energy governance study completed in Singapore has shown that wind farms harm 17 times fewer birds per unit of electricity produced than fossil fuel generation.
Studies show that wind farms are probably responsible for impacting birds at rates that are:
- 400 times fewer than cars
- 500 times fewer than pesticides
- 1200 times fewer than high-tension wires.
In accordance with the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) requirements, Neoen will do pre and post construction weed survey for the disturbance footprint plus a buffer of 5m. Any identified weeds in the disturbance footprint will be removed or treated prior to any ground disturbance works commence. There will also be a detailed weed management plan in place for study area.
Moreover, in accordance with the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) Neoen will implement a vegetation management plan taking weeds in account. The management of weeds within the disturbed footprint, including rehabilitation areas will continue for up to two years post construction or until weed presence is no longer directly attributed to the project.
It is part of the Construction Environment Management Plan (CEMP) obligations: “If dust is generated, ensure that a water truck is used to dampen down all access tracks and public access roads.” Further obligations are set out in construction contract.
A project specific Bushfire Management Plan has been prepared in consultation with QFES and shared with QFES local representatives. Neoen will share this plan with the Dixalea fire warden.