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Wind farm is given final chance

The proposed addition to the Albany Wind Farm to increase the city’s renewable energy dependence to 90 per cent has been given the chance to finally get under way.

The commercial viability of the Grasmere Wind Farm has improved with the advent of new technology and Verve Energy is again considering the project.

However, a decision will not be made for at least six months which could either enable the project to commence or be shelved indefinitely.

Project manager Daniel Thompson said this has been supported by intensified local, national and international debate about climate change and carbon taxes, and the need for more renewable energy.

“While equipment costs for this Grasmere project are still expected to be high, and our studies have some way to go, the commercial signs are now more positive,” he said.

“Verve Energy will continue this feasibility study to take into account these and other developments.”

The high cost of installing seven wind turbines adjacent the existing wind farm in 2005 ($30 million), resulted in Verve Energy shelving the project.

But instead of seven turbines being part of the new Grasmere Wind Farm, improved technology has enabled Verve Energy to reduce the number to six.

The high-cost wind turbines Verve considered for the project are no longer available and alternative wind turbines that provide 28 per cent more power were recently sourced.

Mr Thompson said this would result in the need for one less turbine for the same power output, thus lowering the projects costs.

This resulted in more positive signs for the project and Verve decided to continue a feasibility study.

A development application has been presented to the City of Albany with environmental assessment documents and detailed project plans being prepared.

A community consultation process will now start with a public display being organised for May.

Mr Thompson said this would give the community access to more information including the look of the wind farm, environmental issues and impact.

The wind farm’s 12 turbines at Sand Patch now produce 21.6Mw and were originally designed five years ago to supply 75 per cent of Albany’s electricity needs, but they now produce less than 50 per cent.

An additional 14Mw of electricity would be created for Albany.

Albany Weekender

21 February 2008