$250m wind power plan for Queensland  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The Courier Mail reports that a 120 MW wind power facility will be constructed in Queensland (not the windiest of places) with more to come.

AS Kevin Rudd touched down in Bali to sign up to a global fight against climate change, he set a new clean energy industry up for take-off in Queensland. The same day, a senior executive of IFE Engineering, one of Germany's biggest renewable energy investors, flew into Brisbane where talks led to a plan to build a $250 million north Queensland wind energy plant that could power a city the size of Cairns. ...

"The Rudd Government's election and Kyoto Protocol signing gave us the confidence to move forward," says Edwin Cywinski, managing director of eco-Kinetics, a Gold Coast-based renewable energy firm part-owned by IFE.

German firm IFE has signed a letter of intent with Wind Power Queensland, the Brisbane-based company of meteorologist Lloyd Stumer, to build within about two years a 120 megawatt, 60-turbine wind farm at Archer Point, 15km south of Cooktown. Stumer says the 2300ha site is buffeted by southeast trade winds that make it the best – but not the only – wind power prospect in Queensland.

Cywinski says Germany's largest bank, Deutsche Bank, and Aktiva Group, a major European renewable energy sector investor, wish to join IFE and WPQ in the Archer Point wind farm. He says the group is already mulling stage-two expansion and additional Queensland wind farm sites.

"We hope to complete due diligence (on Archer Point) in the next two months, then get on with it. We see potential for a stage two, adding a further 60MW on the site, and are looking at further opportunities in Queensland and elsewhere," Cywinski says. ...

The German companies planning to help build Queensland's first large-scale wind farm are part of a domestic industry that is a world leader, with capacity of about 22,200MW or almost twice Queensland's entire power grid capacity of about 11,400MW.

Queensland has a meagre 12MW of installed wind energy capacity and is relying on its coal and gas resources for future needs. But gas and coal-fired power are both polluters. ...

Wind power has been criticised, largely by coal industry defenders, as too unreliable to form a viable and sizeable part of a power grid. But University of NSW environmental studies institute's Mark Diesendorf says total output isn't intermittent from a large-scale wind farm where wind turbines are spread over a large area.

He says the reliability of a large-scale wind farm can be upgraded to that of a coal-fired power station by adding "a few" gas-powered turbines into its system. But this is only needed when there is a big reliance on wind power or 10 per cent or more of total power supply.

"Detailed studies in Britain, with data from 60 sites spanning 30 years, show that if you have large-scale wind farms over a large area it is a reliable power source. The criticism that wind power can't be a reliable power source just isn't valid," Dr Diesendorf says.

Queensland's energy ministry describes renewable energy, or non-polluting energy forms that harness limitless power sources such as wind, solar and tidal power, as an emerging technology. Some are well established within Australia.

South Australian government spokesman Rik Morris says that state will see 20 per cent of its electricity generated from renewables – mainly wind farms – either this year or next year.

SA has 388MW of installed wind energy capacity and that will more than double by the end of 2009. An extra 2800MW of wind projects are being developed there. That equates to 32 per cent of Queensland's needs.

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