Snowtown Wind Farm, Australia’s second-largest wind farm and South Australia’s largest, was officially opened in November, bringing an end to seven years of construction.
The $439 million investment is owned by New Zealand electricity generation company Trustpower, which unveiled the project two months ahead of schedule.
With an installed capacity of 270 MW, Stage two is expected to produce an additional 989GWh per annum. Origin Energy has contracted to take the output.
Considering the existing wind farm has a capacity factor of about 42 per cent, the combined Snowtown development promises to provide some of the cheapest wind energy in Australia.
The farm will generation enough electricity to power an average of 170,000 South Australian homes. The total output of both stages is expected to be approximately 1350GWh annually, which is enough to power 230,000 homes.
In environmental terms, this mean the Snowtown Wind Farm now offsets close to 1 million tonnes of CO2 per annum, produced by coal-fired generation that the wind farm displaces. This is the equivalent of removing approximately 200,000 petrol-powered vehicles from Australian roads.
The second stage of the Snowtown development saw 90 wind turbines added – 23 Siemens SWT-3.0-101 turbines and 67 Siemens SWT-3.0-108 turbines.
Stages one and two operate independently of each other, each having their own dedicated communication systems, reticulation networks, substations and associated infrastructure. This operation independence helps to mitigate wind farm and network operational risks.
Snowtown Wind Farm is situated in the Barunga and Hummocks Ranges, 170km north of Adelaide. Electricity generated is transmitted from the wind farm substation to a new substation 7km west of Blyth via 28km of new 275kV overhead transmission line. From Blyth, the electricity is exported into the ElectraNet Para to Bungama 275kV transmission line.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, local MPs and Mayors, representatives of Trustpower and turbine supplier and installer Siemens, landowners and the local community joined together to celebrate the occasion.
Trustpower chief executive officer Vince Hawksworth said the plant confirms South Australia’s commitment to being the nation’s leader in efficient, renewable wind energy programs.
“Climate change is an issue affecting the lives of everybody. Those of us lucky to live on either side of the Tasman Sea have become increasingly aware of that and the impact it can potentially have on our lives and our country’s economies if we don’t all play a part in changing our ways,” he said.
Siemens chief executive officer Jeff Connolly said the plan epitomised a program that benefited all stakeholders.
“It’s good for the economy, good for the environment and, importantly, good for the local community,” Mr Connolly said.
“Snowtown II demonstrates what can be achieved when combining German technology with South Australian know-how and New Zealand investment.”
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) congratulated the parties involved, including the South Australian government for its support of renewables.
“The South Australian government has recognised the many benefits renewable energy can bring to the local economy, and its support has been extremely important for the continued development of wind power in the state,” CEC acting chief executive Kane Thornton said, acknowledging other projects would be few and far between under the federal government’s proposal to slash the Renewable Energy Target.
“Wind power now provides more than a quarter of South Australia’s electricity and, in combination with rooftop solar, it provided more than the state’s total energy needs between 9.30am and 6pm on one day in September this year,” he said.
Trustpower celebrated the Snowtown II Wind Farm’s official opening with a community day, incorporating an art exhibition, bike rides and cycling workshops, skateboarding workshops, live music, bus tours of the project site and children’s activities.