Barnett blows $200 mil into WA windfarm

By Paul Hemsley

Western Australian premier Colin Barnett is continuing the state's strong campaign to harness renewable energy sources, spinning up the Mumbida Wind Farm near Geraldton as the latest government move to tap greener, sustainable resources to fuel the state’s demand for power.

The project is a joint venture between state-owned electricity producer Verve Energy and Infrastructure Capital Group, which hired a consortium of Leighton Contractors and General Electric to construct the facility, which included the installation of GE wind turbines as the first of their kind in Australia.

As the operator of the wind plant, General Electric is heavily invested in the success of the Mumbida facility because it is the company’s showcase demonstrator project for its growing sustainable energy business.

While the Mumbida Wind Farm’s output is able to power up to 40,000 homes via its 22 wind turbines that can produce 55 megawatts, its total output has been purchased by the WA Water Corporation to offset the energy requirements of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant near Bunbury.

The combination of wind power and desalination is a compelling sell for governments in arid regions because it can deliver both energy and guarantee water at a lower overheads than conventional generation methods.

The commissioning of the Mumbida Wind Farm is part of a wider trend to open renewable energy facilities across Australia including a $2 billion wind farm in Tasmania, a $50 million solar plant in Western Australia (also near Geraldton) and a $500 million solar plant in Victoria.

Despite pressure from eastern conservative elements to move away from so-called ‘green causes’ the Barnett government has stuck to its long term strategy of renewable energy investment in hydro, landfill gas and biomass, solar and wind.

Some east coast landholders and farmers are opposed to wind farms for a number of reasons including the potential for a reduction in land values.

However the WA government claims that the state has “some of the best wind resources in Australia”, which are already harnessed by existing wind farms in Collgar, Walkaway and Emu Downs.

Minister for Energy, Mike Nahan, officially opened the Mumbida Wind Farm saying the Mid-West has a substantial wind and solar resource making it attractive for renewable energy projects such as the Mumbida Wind Farm and the nearby Greenough River Solar Farm.

“The region understands the value, importance and wisdom of tapping into its abundant wind and solar resource for the benefit of the whole State. This is a major renewable energy facility using the most modern wind energy technology,” Dr Nahan said.

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