Nineteen months after construction works kicked off, Ratch Australian Corporation has raised the last of 53 turbines at its 180MW Mount Emerald Wind Farm.
The milestone follows the $360 million project achieving “first generation” last month when several turbines started to turn and supply power to the national electricity grid and precedes the wind farm achieving full commercial operation in November.
All of the high voltage underground cabling has now been installed connecting each of the turbines to the site’s substation and switchyard. From here, the power generated enters the grid network for distribution to electricity users in the far north.
Ratch’s EGM Business Development, Mr Anthony Yeates said the project’s complexity had taken a true team effort.
“Everyone at Ratch, including our contractors and many local suppliers share a great sense of accomplishment. The site’s rugged and hilly terrain presented many challenges plus we were committed to delivering a very high level of protection to the local ecology,” Mr Yeates said.
“Our contractors have really done a great job getting the turbines up. Our lead contractor Vestas has been assisted by crane contractor Windhoist and transport contractor Rex Andrews Pty Ltd. It takes a lot of experience and very specialised equipment to deliver all the components by road and get them all lifted and assembled. These companies are the best at what they do in wind farm construction and it really showed on site.
“This also means we have finished the road transport for deliveries of all the major components. A special thanks must go to all the local road users for their patience and understanding during the construction period and also local police who provided the road transport escorts . Our truckies were quick to express how supportive local communities were,” he said.
Mr Yeates said the remaining months would be focused on testing and commissioning, and connecting the wind farm to the grid.
“We are now producing at 60MW or about 33% of full capacity. Vestas has conducted a series of grid performance tests and the results are now being analysed by the Australian Energy Market Operator. We hope to be able to step up to 130MW or about 70% of capacity in early October,” he said.
Once fully operational, Mount Emerald will be the biggest wind farm in Queensland and will deliver in the order of 540,000 MW hours of renewable energy, which is predicted to meet the annual needs of approximately 75,000 North Queensland homes over a 20-year period.
The wind farm will also boost Queensland’s renewable energy credentials significantly. Of the 3,500MW of wind generation capacity currently in Australia, Queensland currently only supplies around 12MW from wind farms in Ravenshoe and Thursday Island.