Windy place for clean energy

THE future looks bright for energy company Petratherm after a preliminary wind energy production estimate indicated that there was good potential to develop up to 300 megawatts of high-yielding wind power at its Clean Energy Precinct (CEP) project.
Work by independent wind consultant GL Garrad Hassan (GH) indicated that capacity factors for wind generation were expected to range between 33.2 per cent and 42.8 per cent. Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said the capacity factor estimate was a positive indicator for the wind farm.
“What that capacity factor means is the percentage of time that the wind turbines are operating at full capacity,” he said.
“A good wind farm is at 33 per cent, a very good one in the high 30 [per cent] and anything above 40 [per cent] is an excellent wind farm.”
Petratherm’s CEP project is being developed to deliver large-scale geothermal energy from the Paralana Geothermal Energy project to the South Australian power grid.
Stage one of the CEP project will involve gas and wind power generation, followed by geothermal and solar power in stagetwo to meet the electricity demand arising from mining developments in northwest
South Australia including the Olympic Dam expansion.
Mr Kallis said the location for the wind farm in the low-lying hills beyond the Flinders Ranges was known to be windy. “We expected it to be a windy place because of the topography but also for another reason. “We have an exclusive position over the land with the Moolawatana pastoral lease,” he said.
“In the local Adnyamathanha Aboriginal language it means ‘windy place’, so we had some anecdotal evidence there that it is quite a windy spot,” he said. GH predicted that the net energy output for stage one of the project would be between 443 and 568.2 gigawatt hours per year, while the estimate for stage two is slightly higher at 450.2 to 571.4GWh/year.
Wind speeds are expected to be between 7m and 8m per second at 100m above ground. More accurate results will be available when installation of two meteorological masts and anemometry at the CEP site is complete.
The masts will measure wind speeds at 10-minute intervals for a minimum of 12 months and will provide information for a feasibility study planned to commence in early 2014.
Mr Kallis said construction would begin after completion of the study.
“A lot of it is timed around the needs of the Olympic Dam expansion, so there’s a bit of a question mark around that,” he said.
“We want to tailor the time of construction to fit in with that. It can be built and ready to provide power as early as 2016,” he said.
A recent Petratherm company announcement estimated that the capital cost would be $1.5 billion, with development costs at $7 million.
The precinct will rely on some public funding but, according to Mr Kallis, the Federal Government has $1.8 billion in unallocated funding available for renewable energy projects.
Discussions with other energy companies, potential mining customers, and federal and state governments have begun, in addition to indigenous land use agreements, resource assessments, and the costing of generation mix and transmission connection.
Mr Kallis said that the CEP was in a perfect area to supply power that would increase by 100Mw per year for six to seven years.
“What we’ve got with the precinct is really unique in that the gas pipeline runs through our tenements, we have a very large geothermal resource, we have lots of solar and now we’ve got the wind confirmation,” he said.

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