Wind turbines arrive at Boco Rock wind farm

Wind turbines arrive at Boco Rock wind farm
Wind turbines arrive at Boco Rock wind farm

Energy Source and Distribution takes a look at the Boco Rock Wind Farm on the back of a major milestone: the erection of its first turbines.

In early May, Bombala residents of the Monaro plains in south east New South Wales stood by as wind turbine blades were transported up the main street on their way to the Boco Rock Wind Farm site.

The move followed the successful delivery of the lower sections of the turbines in April to the site, which is 10km south-west of Nimmitabel and 30km north of Bombala.

Once construction of Stage One of the project is complete, the wind farm will boast 58 1.7MW and nine 1.62MW GE wind turbines and have an install capacity of 113MW.

The components for the 67 wind turbines, comprising 201 tower sections, 201 blades, 67 nacelles, 67 hubs and 67 electrical kiosks are being shipped to the multipurpose wharf at the Port of Eden and will be transported over the coming months by specialist transport company Rex J Andrews.

“Given the successful start to the transport period, we expect delivery of the components to be completed sooner than the proposed six month period,” Boco Rock Wind Farm manager Adrian Oakey said.

With two cranes now onsite (one 270 tonne and one 600 tonne), turbine installation is ready to commence.

After beginning construction last August, civil works on the project substation are almost completed and both of the 132kV transformers have arrived and are in place. Some turbines are expected to begin generating energy this November, before the expected completion of construction in February 2015.

Local investment continues to be a big focus for the wind farm during its construction phase. A significant proportion of the investment made in Boco Rock will stay within the Australian economy through construction and supply contracts. Moreover, a significant amount of money is expected to be spent locally.

Once operational, Stage One of the project will continue to see benefits flow in the region. Onsite, wind farms allow farmers to drought-proof their land by providing for a stable income stream regardless of rainfall. Locally, a community fund will also be established to provide support for the local region to develop, maintain and enhance facilities, amenities, projects and activities. Broader indirect benefits will also be felt through ongoing employment and community initiatives as has happened at other Australian wind farms.

Project Background

Developer CWP Renewables achieved planning approval for a total of 122 wind turbines spread across 27 different properties, including those landowners that will host the connecting powerline spanning from the project to Steeple Flat, 25km to the east of the project.

Site selection for Boco Rock Wind Farm incorporated extensive assessment of potential sites, comprising GIS analysis and consideration of local community issues, ecological and archaeological matters, surrounding land use, grid connection and other technical factors.

A wind monitoring regime was used to maximise confidence in the wind resource at the site and optimise both the project layout and wind turbine procurement process. Wind is literally the driving force behind any wind farm development, so understanding the wind regime across the site is critical.

Meterological masts were used for wind resource assessment throughout the development phase, installed progressively from 2008 onwards. Permanent masts, installed during construction, will be used throughout operation to verify ongoing wind resource analysis.

Mobile Triton Sonic Profilers were also used in conjunction with masts. These devices measure wind speed and direction through the scattering of sounds waves by atmospheric turbulence. What’s more, the mobile Triton Sonic Profilers allow rapid data collection and correlation with data from fixed masts.

Preparation of an Environmental Assessment (EA) was a key component to bringing Boco Rock from a greenfield site through a planning pathway to a fully-approved and financially competitive project. The project EA was a comprehensive document that drew together high level detail of the project, the independent technical assessments that had been undertaken and the social context in which the project was proposed.

In NSW, such documents are assessed by the state government and the federal government, by key agencies such as the Roads and Maritime Services and by the public through an exhibition and submission process. This process creates a feedback loop that provides for peer review of the project, design improvements and, finally, a governmental decision.

The robust planning, design and consultation process undertaken at Boco Rock meant planning approval was achieved in 2010, making it CWP Renewables’ first approved wind farm
in NSW.

Once approved, CWP Renewables worked hard to build a network of experienced companies which could come together to make Boco Rock happen. Both the wind turbine model and the Balance of Plan (BoP) contractor were sourced through a tendering process to ensure the best fit for the site, technically and financially.

On the strength and suitability of their tender submissions, General Electric (GE) won the tender to provide wind turbines and Downer EDI the civil and electrical works, creating the GE-Downer consortium that, with CWP Renewables, will see the project through to operation.

The company was also instrumental in bringing together a consortium of financial organisations that committed to building the $361 million project.

The work undertaken to achieve financial close was recently recognised by Project Finance Magazine, when it was awarded the Wind Deal of the Year (2013). The award recognised the complexity and creativity of the process.