ABOUT WIND FARMS
The construction timeframe depends on the project size and the number of workers deployed on site. For a 100 MW power plant, an 8 to 14-month timeframe is typical, with a peak construction period of 2 to 3 months. A large project like our Kaban Green Power Hub will take around 24 months to construct with a longer peak construction.
Neoen’s projects use premium quality wind turbines and battery technology provided by leading manufacturers. This is selected through a competitive process for each project. All components come with long warranty periods, wind turbines are generally warrantied for 20 to 25 years.
A wind farm will typically operate for between 25 and 30 years.
Wind turbines are designed to convert wind into mechanical energy by rotating the turbine blades. The mechanical energy is converted into electricity via a generator in the nacelle, which is sent directly to the grid. The electricity generated by the turbine is proportional to the wind speed cubed. As an example, a wind turbine in 8m/s wind will produce about 8 times as much electricity as a wind turbine in 4m/s wind. This means the correct placement of turbines in high and consistently windy areas is important for achieving the lowest cost power generation for consumers.
Generally speaking wind turbines have a tip height of between 150 and 270 metres with approximately 500 metres between each turbine. However, this varies from project to project. Larger turbines generate more energy, are spaced further apart and have lower rotational speeds than smaller turbines.
When wind turbines are placed in a forest, turbines need to be taller to allow space between the tops of the trees and the bottom of the turbine blades. Neoen may also be required to construct taller turbines than normal at Kaban Green Power Hub to protect birds flying above the pine forest. This will be determined by detailed ecological surveys.
We acknowledge that wind turbines do impact the landscape but will work with communities to ensure our wind farms have the least possible detrimental impact on visual amenity. Neoen encourage individuals and groups that have questions about visual impact and remedies to engage with us early.
Overall, we consider that the immediate and long-term benefits which wind farms bring to communities offset any loss of visual amenity.
At the end of the wind farm’s life cycle (typically 25-30 years) the wind farm is decommissioned and we remove the wind turbines and all above ground structures and rehabilitate the site. This is a condition of the wind farm’s development approval from the State government and our agreement with the landowners.
During decommissioning most of the materials the wind farm is made from can be reclaimed or recycled.
A 2012 study by SKM on the economic benefits of wind farms in Australia found that, for every 50 MW in capacity, a wind farm delivered the following benefits:
- Direct employment of up to 48 construction workers, with each worker spending approximately $25,000 in the local area in shops, restaurants, hotels and other services (a total of up to $1.2 million)
- Indirect employment during the construction phase of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs and 795 nationwide jobs
Renewable energy projects are now the cheapest sources of new energy generation. Wind energy projects produce energy at less than $60 per megawatt hour. The costs of other sources of generation are:
- Existing coal: approximately $40 per megawatt hour
- Combined gas-cycle generation: approximately $75 per megawatt hour
- New coal: approximately $130 per megawatt hour
Neoen pays for any electrical transmission upgrades necessary to connect and operate the project in the electricity grid. This includes construction and maintenance costs for the life of the project.
All Neoen projects meet strict State and Federal Government regulations and are assessed under these regulations. We work closely with governments to ensure we meet all legal requirements and exceed these requirements wherever possible.
Studies into the potential impact of wind farm developments on property prices, including by the NSW Valuer-General (2009) and Urbis (2016), have concluded there is insufficient evidence to suggest wind farms can be linked to adverse impacts on property prices.
Health & Culture
There are nearly 200,000 wind turbines installed worldwide — many of them in more densely populated areas close to houses.
Some 17 reviews of research literature conducted by leading health and research organisations from all over the world, including the World Health Organisation, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Centre, the UK Health Protection Agency and the US National Research Council, have concluded there is no published evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.
Before it can operate, a wind farm has to demonstrate that noise levels at neighbouring residences will meet strict noise limits. These limits are designed to ensure that noise from a wind farm is not intrusive for the average person.
Monitoring of dust levels during construction is a basic requirement of each project. Dust generating activities are assessed during windy conditions and are stopped and rescheduled where adequate control of dust generation cannot be achieved.
Visual observation of machinery is undertaken during site inspections in addition to daily pre-start checks which ensure all machinery has appropriate emission control devices, is in good working order and is maintained correctly.
SAFETY & ENVIRONMENT
Neoen engages specialist consultants to undertake detailed flora and fauna surveys to determine the ecological attributes of the land.
On all of our projects, we aim to minimise the impact on flora and fauna by designing projects to be constructed outside areas of high conservation significance and adopting control measures during the construction process. During the detailed design, wind turbines will be micro-sited to minimise the potential impact on fauna habitat with turbine heights selected to minimize the overlap between rotor swept area and bird flight heights.
Other mitigation measures include preparing management plans, identifying ‘no-go zones’ within the project site and conducting pre-clearance surveys. Neoen also consults with government departments of environment and biodiversity throughout the development, construction and operational stages of projects, as well as local non-government organisations.
Neoen built and operates the Hornsdale Wind Farm across numerous properties near Jamestown in South Australia.
Stock including sheep and cattle take a couple of days to get used to wind turbines, and then are very comfortable with them – they rub up against turbines and use the shade from the towers during summer.
While wind farms are sometimes accused of threatening birds, an energy governance study completed in Singapore has shown that wind farms harm 17 times fewer birds per unit of electricity produced than fossil fuel generation.
Studies show that wind farms are probably responsible for impacting birds at rates that are:
- 400 times fewer than cars
- 500 times fewer than pesticides
- 1200 times fewer than high-tension wires.