THE region’s largest renewable energy project is officially up and running after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was on the Tablelands to open the Mount Emerald Wind Farm last Thursday.
The wind farm, which began construction in February of 2017, is located five kilometres west of Walkamin and comprises of 53 turbines which is forecast to generate an average of between 500 and 600 million KWh (kilowatt hour) of safe, clean, renewable electricity every year for its 25-year operating life.
There are two models of wind turbines used at the site, with 37 3.45 megawatt capacity turbines and 16 3.3 megawatt capacity turbines, of which will provide electricity to more than 80,000 homes.
The construction phase of the $380 million project provided more than 200 jobs, with ten full-time jobs remaining since the farm became operational.
The Mount Emerald Wind Farm’s developers, owners and operators RATCH-Australia were ecstatic to have the project’s construction phase completed on schedule.
“It’s a mix of excitement and relief to be honest, obviously the construction phase is a stressful time with the amount of people, heavy machinery and equipment on site, so it’s a great feeling to have it finished, and most importantly, safely finished,”
RATCH-Australia Executive General Manager for Business Development Anthony Yeates said.
“We are very pleased to have it completed on time as it is not an easy feat, and as you can see here today we are extremely happy with the finished outcome.”
Mr Yeates said the first generation out of the facility was in August of last year.
“Since August 2018 we have been in a phased ramp-up of generation and commissioning, with the site becoming fully operational in January of this year,” he said.
While construction of the development began in 2017, the idea has been in the pipeline for more than a decade.
“We formed a partnership with John Morris (FNQ developer) in 2009, however it has been a lengthy process as projects of this scale take a long time from concept to feasibility, to planning, to approval, to construction and finally to completion,” Mr Yeates said.
Mr Yeates thanked Vestas, their parent Thai company, the State Government, Powerlink and Ergon Energy for their enormous contribution in getting this project off the ground.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has been outspoken in her support of renewable energy, and she noted the enormous benefits a renewable energy project of this scale is going to provide the state.
“The investment and vision for this wind farm is amazing – and is an integral part of the renewable energy boom is currently happening in Queensland,” she said.
“Queensland has more than 2,400 MW of large-scale renewable energy capacity operating already and almost 900 MW of renewable energy capacity is currently financially committed or under construction, and is part of the State Government’s policy certainty of setting a 50 per cent energy target by 2030.
“We know we need to get the balance right, but we also know that we are the most energy rich state in the nation and we have to put in place a policy which gives investors and bankers certainty.”
Ms Palaszczuk said the wind farm will be of great economic benefit to both the region and the state as a whole.
“I know Queensland has come to renewable energy a little late, but the boom is happening now and our state will reap the benefits as a result,” she said.
“Therefore it is my honour to officially open the Mount Emerald Wind Farm.
“Congratulations to everyone involved.”
The Mount Emerald Wind Farm also held a public open day on Saturday, with more than 600 attending.