More than 100 Crystal Brook residents are expected to speak out against a $65 million wind, solar and battery proposal for regional South Australia that would include Australia’s tallest turbines.
The development application for Crystal Brook Energy Park is expected to go to the State Commission Assessment Panel for a vote on Thursday.
However, more than 260 Crystal Brook residents have put in representations about the project, most of them objecting to the wind farm component, which would produce 125 megawatt-hours of electricity.
The tallest of the 26 wind turbines at the site would stand 240 metres high, just shy of some in Germany which are 6 metres taller, and 40 metres taller than any others in Australia.
The closest house is about 1.3 kilometres from a turbine, while Crystal Brook is about 3.5 kilometres away.
The energy park would also include up to 500,000 solar panels producing 150 megawatts of power, and a lithium-ion battery able to store up to 400 megawatt-hours of electricity.
Neoen – which also owns the Hornsdale wind farm near Jamestown, which feeds into the giant Tesla battery – left out its planned hydrogen plant.
It had received a $1 million grant for a feasibility study towards just before March’s state election.
The panel will hold hearings in Port Pirie on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Crystal Brook resident Gerry Nicholson said the towers would “absolutely dominate the entire region with the height they’re going to”.
He said they would be the first wind turbines in the Flinders Ranges.
“My concern is once they get a foothold into being able to put towers on somewhere like the southern Flinders Ranges, how far up the ranges are they going to go?” Mr Nicholson asked.
“Are they going to start putting them in the Adelaide Hills or the beaches of Glenelg?
“You wonder where it’s going to stop if people don’t stand up and say no.”
Other concerns included the noise they would produce and possibly related health issues, and effects on tourism, television reception and land values.
Neoen Australia managing director Franck Woitiez said the company had listened to residents’ concerns and had cut the number of proposed wind turbines in half since the original proposal.
“Upon completion of the project, we will also create an $80,000 per year community fund, which will be allocated by local community leaders to community projects that drive environmental and social change,” he said.
Hydrogen study still being completed
When the proposal was announced in March, the State Government promised a further $4 million towards a plant to use excess electricity to produce hydrogen if the feasibility study was positive and Neoen decided to go ahead with it.
It would also provide the company with a $20 million loan.
In its application, Neoen says the “this component of the project is in its infancy”.
“[As] feasibility has not yet been established, let alone technology suppliers selected, it is not yet possible to specify the final shape of the hydrogen facility with a sufficient degree of precision for a development application,” it said.
It said the project was “unlikely to have a significant visual effect on the character of surrounding residential localities and the Crystal Brook township” because views “would be screened by adjoining buildings or structures and/ or surrounding tree cover and landform”.
“Shadow flicker” from blades would exceed national guidelines in three homes.
“The report identifies a number of mitigation measures to reduce the effect of shadow flicker on these residences, including the installation of shielding structure or the planting of vegetation to block shadow cast by the turbines,” the company said.
Neoen Australian head of development Garth Heron said the hydrogen feasibility study would be finished “in the coming months”.
“Neoen’s plan has always been not to include a hydrogen component in the main Crystal Brook Energy Park development application, but rather to wait until after the feasibility study is completed and all of the technical and planning implications are fully understood,” Mr Heron said.
“If it decides to proceed with hydrogen, a separate, detailed development application will be submitted to the South Australian Government.”
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