Construction begins on 90 MW Alinta Wind farm in Western Australia

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Construction on the 90 MW Alinta Wind Farm, 35 kilometres south east of Geraldton, in the mid-west of Western Australia, is underway. The A$200 million project, being developed by Renewable Power Ventures (RPV) for utility Alinta, was given unconditional approval last month. Comprising 54 Vestas NM82 1.65 MW turbines, it will be Western Australia's largest wind farm to date. RPV is a grouping of Western Australian company Carbon Solutions, US developer National Power, and London merchant banking group Babcock and Brown. It will build and operate the wind farm, while Alinta will take all the electricity generated for sale to its retail customers. The project is due for completion in mid-November 2005, with the first electricity due in mid 2005. For Danish turbine supplier Vestas the contract is worth around EUR 95 million. Each year, the power produced will displace 40,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases produced by traditional power generation, the equivalent of removing 80,000 cars from the roads each year," says Alinta's Bob Browning. In addition, the project will inject around A$300 million into the Mid-West region's economy and create about 200 jobs during construction. "Combined with our cogeneration plant at the Alcoa refinery, the Alinta Wind Farm positions the company as a major provider of cheap, green electricity," he adds. Browning notes that the state government's introduction of new arrangements to balance electricity supply and demand, known as top up and spill regulations (TUAS), were essential to the project going ahead. TUAS Under these rules, generators can buy power shortfalls (top-up) or sell power that has been contracted for, but which is surplus to needs (spill), without incurring undue financial penalties.

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