Tasmania plans green exports -- Approval sought for 160 MW

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Hydro Tasmania has applied for planning approval to develop a 160 MW wind farm on the west coast of Tasmania near Zeehan. "If approved, the Heemskirk Wind Farm, between Trial and Granville Harbours, will be a major element of Hydro Tasmania's renewable energy development program and bring a new era of high technology to the west coast," says the company's David Wilson.

Construction of the A$270 million wind farm -- to supply electricity for 63,000 households -- would begin in 2004 using 80, 2 MW turbines. Vestas, which is to establish a manufacturing plant in Tasmania, is expected to be the supplier. Some or all of the electricity generated at Heemskirk will be exported to the mainland via the Basslink interconnector, which was approved last year.

"The site has a world-class wind resource, thanks to the Roaring Forties, a significant renewable energy source that remains largely untapped," says Wilson. It is also remote from populated areas. He estimates that 150 local jobs will be created during the construction of the wind farm and A$50 million will be injected directly or indirectly into the local economy. "If the Heemskirk Wind Farm is approved, it will also increase the likelihood of local manufacture of wind turbine components in Tasmania, with all the economic and employment benefits that will bring," he adds.

Hydro Tasmania is also constructing a 130 MW wind farm at Woolnorth, with Vestas chosen as supplier, and has further plans for a small wind farm for Musselroe in the north- east -- a staged development with construction planned to begin this year or early in 2004. The first stage, the company says, would have five to 25 turbines generating 10-50 MW, while later development could see the wind farm increase to 150 MW with a total of 70-80 turbines.

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