Wind farm takes shape

Wind farm takes shape, purchasing partners sign up


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Stakeholders in the Murra Warra wind farm project gathered at the Sailors Home hall north of Horsham last week. From left Rob Brimblecombe, Monash University, Kendra Wasiluk, Monash, Steve Tinker, Telstra, Abraham Azzam, project manager, Downer Utilities, Graeme Massey, Yarriambiack Shire mayor, Wes Ferguson, Telstra, Mark Clover, ANZ, Michael Haynes, Coca-Cola Amatil, Mark Radford, Horsham Rural City mayor and Ned Halliday, University of Melbourne.

Stakeholders in the Murra Warra wind farm project gathered at the Sailors Home hall north of Horsham last week. From left Rob Brimblecombe, Monash University, Kendra Wasiluk, Monash, Steve Tinker, Telstra, Abraham Azzam, project manager, Downer Utilities, Graeme Massey, Yarriambiack Shire mayor, Wes Ferguson, Telstra, Mark Clover, ANZ, Michael Haynes, Coca-Cola Amatil, Mark Radford, Horsham Rural City mayor and Ned Halliday, University of Melbourne.

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AN ENORMOUS wind farm project is beginning to take shape on the flat Wimmera Plains, with the facility eventually powering 220,000 homes.

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A CONSORTIUM of renewable energy buyers have put pen to paper to commit to buying electricity from the first stage of what will be one of Australia's largest wind farms until 2030.

It is a feather in the cap for the Murra Warra farm, located on the Wimmera plains to the north of Horsham, which, when fully constructed will be one of the largest wind farm projects in Australia.

The consortium is made of Telstra Energy, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the ANZ Bank and Coca Cola Amatil.

Speaking at the Sailors Home Hall, just kilometres from the new development, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, Wes Ferguson, Telstra Energy, said he was excited to be involved in the project.

The Murra Warra site is currently a hive of activity.

The Murra Warra site is currently a hive of activity.

"There is the ongoing debate on renewables, but it is often overlooked that they are here now and are contributing to our national energy," Mr Ferguson said.

He praised the Murra Warra development, owned by private equity firm Partners Group and overseen by project management firm RES Australia.

"It's been well organised, as evidenced by the fact it's likely to be finished on or ahead of time, and that is no mean feat with a project unique, to Australia at least, in size.

"Given all the talk of an energy shortage the plan to invest in renewables has been a plan that has worked."

The sprawling wind farm project is expected to generate up to 1800 gigawatt hours a year, from 116 turbines upon completion of Stage 2 of the project.

The turbines used for the project are currently the largest used in Australia, with total height to tip 211 metres.

Each turbine is capable of generating 3.7 megawatts, and with design improvements is also quieter and able to operate with lower wind speeds than predecessors.

The construction taking place at present is presenting locals with a glimpse of some awe inspiring engineeering.

The construction of the turbines at Murra Warra is a feat of modern engineering.

The construction of the turbines at Murra Warra is a feat of modern engineering.

To fit the overhead power lines to the towers, the lines were strung by a helicopter in an operation essentially like threading a needle on a much grander scale.

This method is now deemed to be safer and and quicker than manually threading the lines.

To get a feel for the scale of the project each turbine blade is 70.5 metres long and weighs 20 tonnes and  the massive towers weigh approximately 433 tonnes.

Each turbine foundation has 606 cubic metres of concrete and 74 tonnes of steel.

When the project is finished it will mean a whopping 36,600 tonnes of concrete on the site.

The 211 metre turbines stand out for miles on the flat Wimmera plains.

The 211 metre turbines stand out for miles on the flat Wimmera plains.

The final foundation will be poured on February 18.

It is expected the project will cost around $650 million, with around 320 people employed during the construction phase, easing down as the farm nears completion.

There will be 12 permanent jobs on site post construction to maintain and monitor the turbines.

When it is operational, Stage 1 of the Murra Warra project is forecast to power up to 220,000 homes across Victoria.

The electricity will be fed into the grid via a terminal station on the site, which connects to a transmission line and then onto the national grid.

The location, in the heart of the Wimmera Plains, is locally notorious for near constant strong winds.

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