Approval for another 41 wind turbines near Bungendore has been granted by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission.
The proposed new turbines will be south of the existing Capital Wind farm and closer to the eastern shore of Lake George. Though approval has been obtained, the project is yet to be considered by the board of Infigen Energy.
Its chief executive officer, David Griffin, said on Friday that obtaining approval had been a major milestone. It was possible the board would consider the proposed project next year and that construction could begin in 2013.
The proposed additional 41 turbines will increase by almost 50 per cent the output from 90 existing turbines – 67 on the Capital Wind farm and 23 on the Woodlawn property near Tarago. All of the electricity from these turbines powers Sydney’s desalinisation plant.
Mr Griffin said the proposed new wind farm would produce enough electricity to power about 41,000 dwellings. Infigen Energy would either find a new purchaser for the electricity or run the wind farm as a merchant plant selling into the electricity market.
The turbines would be closer to Lake George and therefore lower than the existing turbines. So the wind resource for the new turbines would be less. But by taking advantage of technical improvements, the new turbines could be about as efficient.
Long-time opponent of wind farms, Julie Gray, once declared she would move if the Capital Wind Farm went ahead. However, she still lives near Bungendore and has told the ABC she would fight against the proposed new turbines. She was angry that the environment near Lake George would be devastated.
Ms Gray said wildlife such as wedge-tailed eagles, yellow-tailed cockatoos and other birds were threatened by the proposed new turbines.
Mr Griffin said that over the 27 months the existing turbines had operated, only four Indian myna birds and one sulpha-crested cockatoo had been killed by the turbines. Meanwhile, thousands of birds had been killed by flying into windows and by motor vehicles within 10km of the wind farms.
He said people who were concerned for birds should focus on the real threat to them. It was crazy to blame wind farms for killing birds when road kills were many times higher.
On the value of wind farms, he said about 20 per cent of South Australia’s electricity was produced by wind and greenhouse emissions had fallen by about 15 per cent. Infigen Energy also has approval for a 50 megawatt solar farm north of Bungendore and south of its Capital Wind Farm. It was approved in December last year.
Mr Griffin said it was part of the Federal Government’s solar flagships tender which had not succeeded.
”The economics for solar is improving rapidly but we are not there yet,” he said. ”We are working on a few different ways of improving the efficiency of the plant.”
He said it was hard to say when the solar farm might go ahead.
It would be on private property. Sheep would be grazed there to keep down weeds but goats and cattle would not be suitable.
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