Queensland leads the way -- Expansion to 25 MW

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Preliminary approval has been granted for a further 22 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 13 MW at Windy Hill in the Atherton Tablelands of the far north of Queensland. When complete the project will be Australia's largest wind farm by far.

The 22 turbines will be an expansion of the first 12 MW phase of Windy Hill, made up of 20 E40 Enercon turbines from Germany, now being developed by Queensland utility Stanwell Corporation, which will also develop phase two. The first two turbines at the site were commissioned on January 1.

Phase one is due for completion by July, says Stanwell's Bernie Stein. Final approval of the 13 MW expansion from Herberton Shire Council is subject to further monitoring and noise impact assessment.

Output from the first phase has been pre-sold to electricity retailers Energex, Ergon and Citipower for their green power schemes, which are accredited by the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) of New South Wales. SEDA is now recognised as the leading renewables authority in Australia.

Benefits from the A$20 million project range from agreements with graziers for continued dual-use of land, an injection of A$2-3 million into the local economy during construction, and ongoing tourism opportunities. Good winds, close proximity to existing transmission infrastructure and the ability to help meet local demand for power were all reasons for the site selection. According to Stein, the 12 MW wind farm will save more than 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year from a source like coal. Stanwell Corporation was formed in 1997 following the restructuring of the state owned Queensland Generation Corporation.

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