The average wind speed on the western edge of Tasmania is 30 km/h. Not just some days, not just in certain seasons, every hour of every day year round. That’s what makes it an ideal location for wind turbines. The Granville Harbour wind farm will feature 31 of the wind turbines that measure 200 meters from their base to the tip of the blades. The project will cost $280 million to build and provide enough electricity to run 46,000 homes when completed.
Cattle rancher Royce Smith has spent the last decade trying to get the Granville Harbour project off the ground, much of it navigating the various federal and state approval processes needed to bring the project to fruition. He has since sold his interest in the venture but will benefit for lease payments for the turbines located on his land. He says the project will help preserve the cattle farm that has been in his family for the past 50 years. “I’ve been able to employ more people and we are improving the property with good fences,” he tells ABC News.
Project Director Lyndon Frearson says the West Coast of Tasmania doesn’t look remote on a map but is extremely isolated. “It is very windy out here and it’s one of the highest capacity wind farms I’ve worked on as far as how much wind we get and the consistency of that wind.” Once construction is complete, Smith intends to regrow the grass his cattle need and let them graze beneath the giant structures.
Connection Costs Are A Factor
The electricity from the Granville Harbour wind farm will be fed into the Tasmania grid via an existing substation at the Reece Dam hydroelectric via a 10-kilometer long transmission line. State-owned Hydro Tasmania will buy the power and export most of it to the mainland market through an existing undersea cable.
But there are plans afoot to build more and larger wind farms in Tasmania — up to 1000 megawatts — to supply electricity to the mainland 500 kilometers away across the Bass Straight. “Tasmania is in a good position because we’ve got one of the best wind resources in the world,” says energy analyst, Marc White. “The question for us is the cost of getting in to the Victorian market. There’s concerns that a $1 billion wind farm might need a $3 billion interconnector, so the economics are really very different.”
Whether those grandiose plans ever come to fruition, the Granville Harbour wind farm is expected to be completed and in operation before the end of this year.