By Paul Hemsley and Julian Bajkowski
The South Australian government has blown hot air in the face of new federal scepticism over the merits of harnessing wind power for mainstream electricity generation after Premier Jay Weatherill’s government gave planning approval for the second biggest turbine farm in the country.
Valued at $1.5 billion, the 197-turbine plant is set to be located between Ardrossan and Minlaton on the Yorke Peninsula and will supply electricity Adelaide’s grid through an under-sea transmission cable from Port Julia to St Kilda.
The South Australian government has estimated the giant new propeller plant will eventually provide power for the equivalent of 225,000 South Australian homes a year. Dubbed the ‘Ceres Project’, the development is the brainchild of wind turbine supplier The Suzlon Group and its subsidiary Senvion which will manage the facility.
South Australian Minister for Planning John Rau said the alternative power source would avoid the creation of up to 2.5 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year, or the equivalent of a 278,000 hectare tree plantation.
However with an election looming and the manufacturing industry in decline, South Australia’s Labor government is keenly to promoting the job creating and economic benefits of the wind farm development alongside its environmental credentials.
Mr Rau said that the Ceres development would generate 500 direct jobs during construction, along with an expected 50 full time jobs over the 25 year operational life of the development.
The Weatherill government has committed strongly to trying to ensure that “wind energy has a positive future” because of the industry’s estimated value of $8 billion to the state.
It also appears the price of wind farms is falling. South Australia’s wind farm project might be vast, but its cost is below that of a wind farm approved in Tasmania by Premier Lara Giddings in November 2012.
The Tasmanian wind farm comes with the higher price tag of $2 billion, however has only three more wind turbines than the planned South Australian wind farm.
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