Largest wind farm in Southern Hemisphere opens

Victorian Premier and local member for the South-West Coast Denis Napthine officially opened the Macarthur Wind Farm in April.

The project is the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere and was delivered on time and to budget by joint venture partners AGL Energy Limited (AGL) and Meridian Energy (Meridian).

To mark the formal opening, the Premier unveiled a commemorative plaque at a ceremony on the wind farm site near Hamilton, 290km west of Melbourne in the Shire of Moyne.

The 420MW $1 billion renewable energy project has the capacity to power more than 220,000 average Victorian homes and abate more than 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year – the equivalent of taking more than 420,000 cars off the road.

The Macarthur Wind Farm comprises 140 Vestas V112-3.0MW wind turbine generators and has been constructed by a Vestas/Leighton Contractors consortium. The site was chosen for its large landholdings, landowner commitment, community support, wind resource and proximity to the existing transmission grid.

AGL managing director and chief executive officer Michael Fraser said the project has been made possible by strong bi-partisan political support for Australia’s 2020 Renewable Energy Target.

“Projects like this also don’t happen without support from all levels of government, in this case including support from federal, state and local governments,” the Premier said.

“It is particularly pleasing that a significant number of the towers used for this project were constructed locally in Portland by Keppel Prince Engineering.”

Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Gary Gray has also congratulated AGL, its joint venture partner Meridian and all the contractors and sub-contractors who have seen this project through to fruition.

“The Macarthur Wind Farm is a major investment in clean, renewable Australian energy and in the social and economic development of this community,” Mr Gray said.

“With a project value of about $1 billion, it is the largest wind farm in the entire Southern Hemisphere. It will also provide 20 full-time jobs for local residents, which comes in addition to the many more it created during construction.”

The Macarthur Wind Farm is the latest addition to AGL’s already significant portfolio of renewable energy generation assets and brings AGL’s renewable energy capacity to 1720MW.

AGL has ensured that the project supports local jobs and industry and as a result Keppel Prince at Portland has been a key supplier to the project, as well as other local businesses.

Clean Energy Council chief executive David Green said the billion-dollar project had provided jobs for locals and major investment in local suppliers and industries during the wind farm’s construction.

“The 875 jobs created in the region during the construction of the Macarthur Wind Farm show that, like many clean energy projects, Macarthur has helped drive economic activity right where it’s needed. Macarthur will provide enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 220,000 average homes every year, as well as continuing to invest in the local community,” Mr Gray said.

To mark the occasion and the establishment of a Macarthur Wind Farm Community Fund, Mr Fraser presented a cheque for $40,000 to Roslyn Stewart, representing local Country Fire Authority brigades, to assist in the purchase of Ultra Light Tankers for the Hawkesdale and Willatook Brigades.

“AGL is committed to the communities in which it operates and we hope this fund will provide enduring positive benefits to the local community through grants that enable the broader community to participate in the benefits the project will bring,” Mr Fraser said.

The first wind turbine was commissioned at the wind farm on October 1, 2012. The remaining turbines were then progressively commissioned in sections and by the end of December 2012, all 140 wind turbines were operational. Practical completion was achieved on January 31, 2013.