Silverton Wind Farm, Australia

The Silverton Wind Farm is a proposed wind energy project near Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia.

The project was initiated by a joint venture between Epuron, a subsidiary of global renewable energy company, Covergy, and Macquarie Capital Wind Fund.

The joint venture was formed in 2007 for developing, constructing and operating the wind farm. Construction of the project was scheduled to begin in the first half of 2010.”It is expected that the wind farm will have an installed capacity of more than 1,000MW.”

It was, however, delayed due to lack of finance and technical problems. In March 2011, the joint venture partners announced their plan to sell the project and are currently looking for investors.

If built, the project will involve the construction and operation of up to 598 wind turbines. It will be among one of the biggest wind farms in the southern hemisphere and among the largest in the world with a planned capacity of more than 1,000MW.

Plant make-up

Silverton Wind Farm is proposed to be built at Barrier Ranges in NSW, around 25km northwest of Broken Hill, NSW. The turbines will be placed over the Mundi Mundi range in the southern portion of the site and Mt. Robe Ranges in the northern portion of the site.

The development is planned in two phases. The first phase will include construction of 282 wind turbines. It is expected to generate 430MW of green energy power, sufficient for around 200,000 households. As of March 2011, the estimated cost of the first phase stood at about $1bn (€800m).

The second phase of the project will add another 316 wind turbines with 830MW capacity.

Grid network

The planned wind farm project also included laying of electricity transmission power lines. The first phase involved construction of a 25km transmission line connecting the wind farm to the Transgrid substation at Broken Hill.

The electrical transmission line was built at a higher capacity than actually required for the project. In March 2010, the development team announced it would determine the effective size of the transmission and resize all the construction stages. There has been no further development on the project as yet.

The proposed 300km transmission line for phase two will connect the wind farm with Red Cliffs substation in Victoria and pass through Broken Hill.

Development of Silverton Wind Farm

The first part of the environment and engineering investigation for the Silverton Wind Farm was completed in September 2008, and an environment assessment seeking project approval was submitted to the NSW Department of Planning.

During June 2009, the government of New South Wales granted an approval for the first phase of the Silverton Wind Farm project.

On 30 June 2009, a lease agreement was signed by the government to secure jobs and investment in western NSW. It is one of the major steps in securing the development of the largest farm in the southern hemisphere, which will be built on 32,000 hectares of crown land.

The approval from existing leases provides a way for a parallel lease to be entered into between lands and the developer, therefore providing the security of tenure the development requires for its $2.2bn development.

The project is expected to provide around 800 jobs for western NSW during the five-year construction period and up to 120 jobs when operational, along with $2.2bn in investment and green energy to three states.

Local environmental impact

Silverton wind farm developments would minimise adverse local impacts and maximise the benefits of the project to the local community.

It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions of around 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per annum, equal to taking 700,000 cars off roads.

The project promises to save portable water consumption by approx 4,600 million litres per annum. It will result in annual savings in pollution from coal-fired power stations of up to 18,760 tons of sulphur dioxide, 8,365 tons of nitrogen oxide and 535,000kg of particulates. It is also expected to inculcate around $701m into the regional economy.

Power market

Silverton Wind Farm is expected to be a major contributor to the federal government’s expanded target of 20% of renewable electricity generation by 2020.

“The project promises to save portable water consumption by approx 4,600 million litres per annum.”

If developed, the wind farm will supply around 3,500GWh of clean, renewable electricity for more than 430,000 New South Wales homes, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in NSW by around 3.5 million tons per annum.

Electricity generation by the project will be equivalent to around 4.5% of NSW’s current energy requirements, and would provide approx 10% of renewable energy required under the federal government’s proposed expansion of the mandatory renewable energy target of 20%, which is 2% at present.