October 9 , 07
Australia to Build $2 Billion 1000 mw Wind Power Plant

German-based Conergy AG, one of the leading solar energy companies in Europe, plans to build a $1.8 billion wind farm that would be Australia's largest wind project. The 500-turbine installation at Broken Hill in the continent's south-east corner would produce enough electricity for 400,000 homes and save greenhouse gas emissions of 3 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

The Mundi Mundi plains in New South Wales were the backdrop for parts of "Mad Max II," one of the films that launched Mel Gibson's career. Some have argued that this part of Australia's cultural heritage is maybe not worth destroying, despite the alleged benefits.

Giving added impetus to the Hamburg-based $1.8 billion project was the announcement last month of a target of 15 per cent of Australia's power being generated from renewable sources by 2050. Currently over 80 per cent of electricity is generated at coal-powered stations with most of the remainder coming from hydro-power stations. At the end of 2006, Australia had installed electricity generation capacity from wind power of 817 MW and wind farms contributed only about 1 percent of the total electricity production.

Construction of the facility was expected to begin in 2009 and would take about three to four years to complete, if the negotiations with locals will yield positive results. Conergy alleges there is overwhelming support for the project, both in the local community and from environmentalists, but that remains yet to be seen.

"Silverton Wind Farm will be one of the largest in the world once it's operational, with the potential for almost 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity," said Mr. Andrew Durran, executive director of Conergy's Australian subsidiary, Epuron.

Conergy AG was founded in 1998 and expects a turnover of 1,25 billion euros in 2007. The company produces solar panels and accessories, and employs around 2,000 people. Hamburg-based Conergy AG has about 15 per cent of the solar energy market in Australia.

A wind farm is a collection of wind turbines interconnected with a medium voltage (usually 34.5kV) collection system and fiber optic communications network.