Graham Readfearn; September 22, 2011


Queensland is on the verge of a wind energy revolution that could see the nation's biggest farm of turbines being developed. Five major projects costing more than $2 billion are being planned that could increase the state's wind-generated electricity more than 100-fold.

And industry experts predict that sweeping changes to planning rules around wind farms announced last month in Victoria could see more investment heading north.

Queensland currently has just two small wind farms with 12.45 megawatts of capacity – one at Windy Hill in the Atherton Tablelands and the other providing power for Thursday Island.  But Queensland Energy Minister Stephen Robertson told if all the planned projects go ahead, the state would have about 1500 megawatts of wind power.

The largest project is the 750 megawatt Kennedy Wind Farmbeing planned by Windlab near Hughenden, 290 kilometres south-east of Townsville, costing $1.5 billion.  Windlab chief operating officer Luke Osborne said the company hoped to submit a planning application to Flinders Shire Council as early as December.  “It's a large project and could well be the largest wind project in Australia. We are very happy with the wind resource there,” he said.  “What it lacks for in higher than average wind speeds it makes up for in reliability.”

Mr Osborne said the site, on crown land and covering three pastoral leases, would use as many as 300 turbines to generate clean power from trade winds that transport heat away from the equator.  He said the project would bring in $80 million for the local economy and create 240 jobs during construction and 40 full-time jobs once it was built.  If planning approvals were granted, he hoped building work would start late next year.


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