The current focus of WISE is the development of a community-owned wind park. The intention is to install a cluster of three 2MW wind turbines, and sell the green electricity to the grid providing a return on investment to shareholders.
Three 2MW turbines situated in the right location could supply equivalent power to that consumed by 3300 households (the combined population of Woodend, Macedon, Mount Macedon and Newham).
Macedon Ranges is rich in wind resources with many potential sites for commercially viable, sensitively located, small-scale wind parks.
Progress on Community Wind Farm for Macedon Ranges
- Renewable energy is central to addressing climate change and presents a great local opportunity for the Macedon Ranges.
- The Victorian Wind Atlas shows that the Macedon Ranges has excellent wind resources. Other developers have already staked out potential sites for wind in the area but, inspired by HepburnWind, the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group (MRSG) has been investigating the prospect of a small wind park part-owned by the local community.
- The benefits of a community-owned wind park include:
- retention of income from energy sales within the shire
- a potential source of income for local residents and local sustainability projects
- a local source of energy, providing energy security for the region
- immediate access to clean energy as electricity generated would be fed to local homes via the grid
- avoidance of transmission losses (up to 30%) from energy currently supplied from the Latrobe Valley.
- enhancing the reputation of the Shire as a progressive and active community on climate change
- further inspiration to community groups elsewhere seeking to secure their clean energy future.
- A Leader Newspapers poll has identified the Macedon Ranges as one of the most environmentally-conscious shires in the state. Our celebrated gardens, vistas and natural attractions are evidence of this.
- With this in mind, WISE (the energy project group of MRSG) has worked with industry professionals and local stakeholders for two years to research the most appropriate renewable energy generation facility for the Macedon Ranges.
- We have identified a site with many attractive features, including:
- very high modelled wind speeds
- excellent road access and grid connectivity – reducing project establishment costs
- negligible native flora and fauna issues
- negligible visual amenity impact
- The site offers a low impact, commercially viable, locally-owned, sensitively located, renewable energy asset for the region.
- There is still considerable work to be done. The next step is to erect an anemometer, or wind monitoring mast to accurately measure the site’s potential. We are confident that the project will prove commercially viable and deliver many local benefits.
Questions and Answers
Q. Where is the community wind farm likely to be located?
A. 5-7 kms south of Woodend in the pine forest.
Q What is the fire risk?
A. Extensive research shows no link between wind turbines and fire incidents and the CFA rate wind turbines as “inherently low risk.”
Q. How many turbines are being proposed?
A. Following the Hepburn Model, WISE (and MRSG) wishes to install between three 2 MW turbines. Two turbines will generate energy equivalent to that consumed by 3,600 households – roughly equivalent to the townships of Woodend Macedon and Mt Macedon, Newham and Tylden.
Q. Will you be able to see the turbines?
A. From most vantage points the anemometer and, assuming the project proceeds, the turbines cannot be seen. Preliminary modelling suggests that the turbines may be visible from the Calder Freeway.
Q. How much will it cost?
A. The HepburnWind project has cost approximately $12 million for 2 X 2MW turbines. The proximity to the grid and excellent access roads should mean that the cost of the 3 turbine WISEwind project should not be that much greater. The cost of erecting an anemometer is anticipated to be $70,000.
Q. How will it be paid for?
A. HepburnWind have funded their project from local and individual investors and government grants. WISE are looking at a range of financing options, which enable community ownership while keeping up front capital expenditure and other hurdles to a minimum. A Climate Communities Grant has been secured to help fund the anemometer.
Q. What is the time frame?
A. We intend to erect an anemometer in the next few months to then gather 12 months of real data. If modelling is confirmed by measurement the project would then require a range of impact assessments and planning permits before commencement of works.
Q. What is the threat to local fauna and birds?
A. State and international research suggests that the risk to birdlife is very low. By locating the wind park in a pine forest reduces this risk even further.
Q. Who has to approve the project?
A. WISE has been talking with the state government and the pine forest operator. The erection of an anemometer does not require a permit because it is on crown land. We are however keen to get community support and we have been actively engaging with the local community at farmers markets, street stalls, and community events and in the local media over the last three years.