Project Description

The Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park project will be located on the coastal plain south-east of Port Augusta in South Australia incorporating both wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) modules and will occupy approximately 5400 hectares of land running from Port Paterson in the north, to Winninowie in the south and spanning Highway One.

The total generation capacity of the approved project is for up to 375MW but it is anticipated it will be around 320MW. The project was originally consented for 59 wind turbines with a maximum tip height of 150m, but was approved in 2019 to increase the tip height to 185m reducing the number of turbines to 50. The project will consist of approximately 210MW of wind generation and 110 MW of solar PV generation.

The Project also incorporates the following permanent components:

• wind turbine transformers for the conversion of the generator voltage to the distribution voltage around the site (nominally 33kV);
• solar PV inverter/transformer stations to convert the DC power from the Solar PV modules to AC
• solar collector stations to step up to the site distribution voltage (nominally 33kV);
• a main converter substation to convert the 33kV site distribution voltage to the 275kV voltage necessary for export (the station also containing switchgear, transformers, offices, welfare facilities and workshop);
• electrical export connection to ElectraNet Davenport Substation;
• hard standing areas for the erection cranes necessary for wind turbine construction;
• wind farm site tracks to each turbine base for maintenance;
• solar PV site tracks for access for maintenance and cleaning ;
• underground 33kV cabling linking the wind turbines in strings to the main substation;
• underground electrical cabling linking solar arrays also to the main substation:
• permanent meteorological masts for monitoring the wind farm performance;
• security fencing approximately 2.4m high around the solar PV sites, and electrical infrastructure for security and safety;
• access locations from the public highway; and
• a viewing platform and visitor information facility.

The main temporary components of the Project includes:
• temporary construction compounds including laydown areas;
• borrow pits for track material;
• concrete batching plants; and
• temporary meteorological masts.

The Development Application Variation approved in November 2019 involves minimal change to the existing approved project and seeks to utilise more modern and efficient wind turbines with larger rotors allowing the project to produce more energy from fewer turbines.

The predicted life of the project is approximately twenty-five years after which time the wind and solar infrastructure will either be removed and the site reinstated or the site refurbished with new equipment.

Current Status

DP Energy is partnering with Iberdrola to build the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park. The $500 million project will begin construction mid-2020 and take approximately 18 months to build. DP Energy will be involved all the way through construction, but ultimately Iberdrola will own and operate the project.

DP Energy received Development approval for the Project in 2016 and approval for a variation seeking to increase the maximum tip height of the wind turbines from 150m to 185m. in November 2019.

Construction

Project Construction

Construction is scheduled to commence mid 2020 with full commercial operation expectation in late 2021, early 2022.


Major construction activities undertaken will include:

  • Building up to 50km of tracks and excavating all the turbine bases to enable up to 500m³ of reinforced concrete to be poured at each base.
  • Erecting the turbines.
  • Installing up to 1,600,000 solar panels.
  • Installing up to 100km of underground cable.
  • Building a Substation/Control Room.
  • Installing an underground export cable to the Davenport Substation.

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Benefits

Economic Benefits

The proposed project offers a number of direct economic benefits to South Australia such as the generation of local/regional and state employment opportunities during construction and throughout the life of the project.

The project will also have indirect economic benefits. Throughout construction and operation local businesses will benefit through the sourcing of local products, materials and services (such as accommodation, food, fuel, and construction supplies and materials).

Construction is expected to last around 18 months during which it is expected to create around 200 jobs, and bring more than $44.5m1 of construction expenditure into the regional economy. When fully operational the Project is expected to create 15-25 ongoing jobs.

Wind farm rental payments allow farmers to diversify their income thereby increasing farm viability by providing an independent non-farm income stream. This helps farmers ride through times of flood, fire, and drought.

Environmental Benefits
When operational, the project will contribute to improved environmental outcomes through reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed project is expected to produce approximately 900GWh of clean, renewable energy each year. Based on the average household usage of 5000kWh2 per year, this is enough energy to power approximately 180,000 South Australian households each year. This translates to an emissions saving of approximately 400,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per annum.

1. Adapted from figures set out in, Sinclair Knight Merz (2012) Wind Farm Investment, Employment and Carbon Abatement, July 2012, p.20
2. Essential Services Commission of South Australia, Energy Retail Prices in South Australia, Ministerial Pricing Report 2013, August 2013, Adelaide, pg 12.

Decommissioning

The project should be in operation for around 25 years following which there are two likely scenarios:

  • The site would be decommissioned and returned to its former condition. Major equipment including the turbines, solar panels and substation components would be broken up and recycled. Where possible existing tracks would be left in situ for use by the landowner.

or

  • Reflecting the advances in technology, existing equipment would be replaced with the latest technology (within the existing development envelope).