Mount Emerald Wind Farm: Boots on ground before Christmas

Construction of the Mount Emerald Wind Farm near Mareeba, town on the Atherton Tableland in Far North Queensland, remains on track for a December start after developer Ratch Australia Corporation announced it had selected its preferred contractors for the project.

Contracting agreements and financing arrangements are still being finalised, but it looks like construction of the project will be undertaken by wind energy technology company Vestas and Australian engineering and construction company Downer Group. Long-term operations and maintenance services for the project will be carried out by Vestas.

The $360 million Mount Emerald Wind Farm will boost Queensland’s renewable energy credentials significantly. Of the 3500MW of wind generation capacity currently in the country, Queensland only supplies around 12MW from wind farms in Ravenshoe and Thursday Island.

The announcement follows Ergon Energy’s decision in May to purchase all of the electricity generated by the wind farm through to the end of 2030.

The project received approval from both the Queensland and Australian governments last year following four years of on-the-ground studies.

Ratch business development manager Anthony Yeates said the EPC tender process had been exhaustive and global in its scale, but the preferred tenderer had been selected based on Vestas’ vast in wind projects around the world and on Vestas and Downer’s successful track record of project delivery in Australia.

“This is the latest in a number of recent announcements for the project that will hopefully see boots on the ground before Christmas. Vestas has installed more than 50,000 turbines in 75 countries and has considerable experience in all the key disciplines – engineering, transportation, construction and operations and maintenance,” Mr Yeates said.

Vestas and Downer will share responsibility for the entire 180MW project including the supply and construction of more than 50 turbines, a substation, cabling to the grid, civil and electrical works, and wind monitoring equipment.

Mr Yeates said employment during the two-year construction phase was expected to peak above 150 while 15 permanent jobs would be created to operate the wind farm.

Power producer Ratch owns a number of wind farms around Australia including the Windy Hill wind farm near Ravenshoe, and has an interest in a number of renewable energy development opportunities.

“We’re eager to get started. It’s no secret Australians want more renewable energy, not less, because they are drawn to the benefits of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air pollution and greater energy security,” Mr Yeates said.