October 8, 2007 (Earthtimes.org) – German renewable-energy company Conergy AG on Monday announced plans for Australia’s largest wind farm. 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. “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 Andrew Durran, executive director of Conergy’s Australian subsidiary, Epuron.
Construction of the wind farm could begin next year and when fully operational be meeting 4.5 per cent of electricity demand in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.
“New South Wales is an excellent state for wind farms,” Durran said. “It has an excellent wind resource, it has a very strong transmission system and it has got the largest energy load.”
Giving added impetus to the Hamburg-based 2-billion-Australian-dollar (1.8-billion-US-dollar) 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.
Durran said negotiations had started with four landowners near Silverton, 25 kilometres from Broken Hill, in western New South Wales.
The tourist town of Silverton is best known for its iconic Outback pub, which featured in the Mel Gibson film Mad Max II and in lots of television commercials. It’s a barren, windswept stretch of Australia and home to just a few hundred people.
“The townspeople in the area recognise the jobs and economic benefits from this project,” he said. “They also recognise that to date their towns have relied on mining as an income source. This provides a new income source for the region.”
Broken Hill, 1,170 kilometres from Sydney and 500 kilometres from Adelaide, is the birthplace of Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP), the world’s biggest mining company. The deposits of silver, lead and zinc – once the world’s largest – are now almost finished and the 20,000 people of Broken Hill have come to rely on the tourist trade for their livelihood.
The town’s main street boasted the ornate Mario’s Palace Hotel, where the drinking competition in the iconic Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was shot. It closed earlier this year.