How long do they take to build?
The time frame for construction depends on the project size and how many workers are deployed on site.
For a large-scale, mixed wind/solar/storage site like the Goyder Renewables project, we expect each stage to take 24 months – with 6 or more stages required for the full build out.
A staged approach also provides a longer and more sustained employment boost to the local community.
Each stage would have a peak construction period of 2 to 3 months. This mainly correlates with the pouring of concrete foundations for turbines. Depending on the project size, peak workforce is likely to exceed 300 people.
What technology does Neoen use?
Our projects use premium quality wind turbines, solar panels, and battery technology from leading manufacturers.
We select these manufacturers through a competitive tender process for each project. This ensures the project’s Cost of Energy is low.
All components come with long warranty periods: wind turbines and solar panels are generally warranted for 25 years, and batteries for 15 years.
What is the life cycle of a project like Goyder Renewables Zone?
The project will operate for 25 to 30 years. After this, all infrastructure will be removed and the site will be rehabilitated. Or, new turbines and panels may be re-installed for a further 25-30 years, before they are removed.
When properly maintained, wind turbines remain highly efficient. Depending on the local environment, solar panels typically only lose around 0.5% efficiency each year. Depending on usage patterns, batteries can retain up to 80% of their capacity after 10 years.
What happens when the project ends?
At the end of a project life cycle, the turbines, solar panels and batteries are removed and the site is rehabilitated.
This is a commitment we make to the landholders and the State government, which is in the development approval and our contract with the host landholders.
After the assets are removed, most of the materials are reclaimed or recycled. This is because the steel, copper, lithium and other materials they are made of retain significant value.
Will the high-voltage infrastructure impact local residents?
Excluding accidents involving physical contact with overhead lines, high voltage infrastructure presents no health risks. It is already located in many places near homes and farms in the Robertstown area and all over Australia.
To minimise visibility from the road, the new substations and transmission line will be set back from the Worlds End Highway in the Bright hills to the east.
How do wind turbines work?
Wind turbines are designed to convert wind into mechanical energy by rotating the turbine blades.
The mechanical energy is converted into electricity via a generator in the nacelle, which is sent directly to the grid.
The electricity generated by the turbine is proportional to the wind speed cubed. For example, a wind turbine in 8m/s wind will produce about 8 times as much electricity as a wind turbine in 4m/s wind.
This is why it’s important to place turbines in high and consistently windy areas to achieve the lowest cost power generation for consumers.
How tall are the wind turbines?
Wind turbines are generally 150 to 270m high (at the highest point). There’s approximately 500 to 1000m between each turbine, but this varies between projects.
Turbines continue to grow in size each year. It is likely that the maximum height of turbines in the Goyder Renewables Zone will be 200 to 220m.
What are the advantages of taller, modern turbines?
Economic: Larger turbines generate more and cheaper energy because they can access higher wind speeds at higher elevations. They also generate savings in civil and electrical costs (foundations, roads, cables, etc.).
Visual: Larger turbines are spaced further apart (up to 1000m) and have lower rotational speeds than smaller turbines.
Noise: Larger turbines don’t necessarily make more noise than smaller turbines, due to their slower speed and improvements in blade design.
All turbines in South Australia are subject to strict noise limits imposed by the Environmental Protection Authority. The noise impacts that are permitted are the same regardless of turbine sizing.
Environmental: Larger turbines require less concrete, roads and cables per unit of energy generated. This reduces carbon emissions, construction traffic, and vegetation clearance. Their blades are also above the flight paths of most birds, which greatly reduces the impact to avifauna.
How do you stop wind turbines impacting the landscape?
We understand that wind turbines do alter the landscape. But we are committed to working with communities to ensure our wind farms have the least possible detrimental impact on visual amenity.
We encourage individuals and groups with questions about visual impact and solutions to engage with us early.
Overall, we believe that emissions reductions – as well as the immediate and long-term benefits that wind turbines bring to communities – offset some loss of visual amenity.
We also believe that renewables impact the landscape significantly less than traditional, fossil-fuel based sources of electricity such as coal mines.
Are there any health risks associated with wind farms?
There are nearly 200,000 wind turbines installed worldwide — many of them in more densely populated areas close to houses.
Some 17 reviews of research literature from these leading health and research organisations concluded there is no published evidence linking wind turbines with adverse health effects:
- World Health Organisation
- Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Centre
- UK Health Protection Agency
- US National Research Council
Can wind turbines noise affect local residents?
To achieve development approval, a wind farm must demonstrate that noise levels at neighbouring residences will meet strict noise limits under the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) 2009 guidelines.
Noise levels are then tested after operation starts to ensure compliance. If these limits are exceeded, turbine operators must shut down or de-rate turbines to achieve compliance.
The EPA limits are designed to ensure that noise from a wind farm is not intrusive for the average person.
The baseline limit for noise audible outside a dwelling in Primary Production-zoned land is 40db(A). This is comparable to a quiet conversation in another room of a house.
What happens at the end of the wind farm’s life?
At the end of the wind farm’s life cycle (typically 25-30 years) the wind farm is decommissioned and we remove the wind turbines and all above ground structures and rehabilitate the site. This is a condition of the wind farm’s development approval from the State government and our agreement with the landowners.
During decommissioning most of the materials the wind farm is made from can be reclaimed or recycled.
How do solar panels work?
When photons of light shine on a solar panel, they knock electrons free on an electrical circuit and produce electricity.
Inverters regulate the accumulation of electricity from a selection of solar panels. The substation distributes the electricity to the grid.
The angle at which the light hits the panel affects the amount of energy that can be harvested from it. This is why tracking systems help to optimise solar generation.
What is a solar array and what does it look like?
A solar array is a collection of solar panels that generate electricity as a system.
Dimensions: Most solar panels are 1m wide by 2m long. Arrays of solar panels are usually 30, 60 or 90 meters long.
Height: Depending on final design decisions and the time of the day (due to movements from solar trackers), the height of panels is likely to be between 1.5 and 3.5 metres.
Spacing: Depending on final design decisions, rows of panels may be spaced 6 to 14 metres apart.
Wide spacing reduces shadowing on the panels in the early morning and late afternoon, and also allows the land to continue to be used for sheep grazing.
Will the solar array alter the landscape?
We understand that solar arrays do alter the visual character of an area. This is why we work with communities to ensure they have the lowest possible impact on visual amenity.
We encourage individuals and groups with questions about visual impact and solutions to engage with us early.
Overall, we believe that emissions reductions – as well as the immediate and long-term benefits that solar farms bring to communities – offset some loss of visual amenity.
Will the solar panels generate glare?
Photovoltaic panels are designed to absorb light and reflect as little light as possible (generally around 2%) to maximise their efficiency.
This is why solar farms are not considered reflective and have been installed at or near a number of airports.
Are there any health risks associated with solar farms?
Solar panels are placed on more than 25% of Australian homes, and have been on homes across the world for the past 15 years.
No health issues have been associated with solar panels, and the Goyder Renewables Zone will use the same type of technology.
Can noise from solar farms affect local residents?
Solar farms create only very slight audible noise during operations (from the inverters).
People in nearby dwellings will not be able to hear it.
How is any potential fire risk managed?
There is very minimal fire risk associated with photovoltaic panels or solar farms.
There is also a cleared vegetation zone around the edges of the solar farms to prevent fire spreading. This is complemented by a strict vegetation management plan.
What technology will be used?
We will use lithium-ion battery technology from leading manufacturers. These manufacturers are selected through a separate competitive tender process. All components come with long warranty periods. Batteries generally have a 15-year warranty. However, they retain the majority of their capacity right up to this point and are often capable of operating beyond the 15-year mark depending on market conditions and other factors.
How does it work?
By combining wind, solar and storage we can deliver a steady, reliable output of power day and night, whenever consumers need it. To do this, the battery will store energy in times of high renewable energy production and/or low pricing and release energy in times of low renewable energy production and/or high pricing, This is similar to how a battery on a home solar system works. Batteries can also help to stabilise the grid by responding quickly to maintain voltage and frequency levels—ensuring South Australia’s lights stay on.
How will the battery reduce costs for consumers?
Battery storage can reduce costs for consumers in three ways:
- supporting more wind and solar, which are now the cheapest forms of power
- increasing competition and pushing electricity prices down
- helping to avoid blackouts and the associated costs
Will the battery increase the risk of fire?
We will undertake a fire risk management plan prior to construction and work with the local CFA/RFS to mitigate any fire risk. We will use premium battery technology that is tested and certified to national and international standards. The installed system will have appropriate internal management and fault monitoring and detection systems, reducing the overall risk of fire.
Are there any health risks?
The battery will use similar technology to the batteries that are being increasingly installed in homes, just on a larger scale. There are no known health risks associated with properly maintained large-scale battery installations.
What happens to the batteries when they reach the end of their life?
We make a commitment that all above-ground infrastructure will be removed and the site rehabilitated when the project ceases to operate. After removal, a large percentage of the material in the batteries will be reclaimed or recycled; over 60% of materials especially critical minerals will be recovered for re-use.
Do renewable projects benefit the Australian and local economy?
A 2012 study by SKM on the economic benefits of wind farms in Australia found that, for every 50 MW in capacity, a wind farm delivered these benefits:
- Direct employment of up to 48 construction workers, with each worker typically spending around $25,000 in the local area in shops, restaurants, hotels and other services (a total of up to $1.2 million)
- Indirect employment of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs, and 795 nationwide jobs
Depending on project sizing, the Goyder Renewables Zone may employ up to 40 people full time after construction in a range of roles, from vegetation maintenance to turbine maintenance.
It is also a core principle of our business model to maximise the number of jobs and contracts filled by local residents.
How much do renewables cost compared to other energy sources?
Renewable energy projects are now the cheapest sources of new energy generation.
Wind and solar generation produce energy at less than $50 per megawatt hour (depending on the quality of the renewable resource and the size of the project).
The Burra/Robertstown area has some of the best wind and solar resources in Australia, so it will likely produce energy at less than $40 per megawatt hour.
The costs of other sources of generation are:
- Gas generation: >$90 per megawatt hour
- Existing coal generation: approximately $40 per megawatt hour
- New coal generation: approximately $130 per megawatt hour
Does Neoen require government subsidies to build its projects?
We do not require government subsidies to finance our projects. We finance our projects through a combination of our own shareholder equity and long-term bank loans.
We sometimes enter commercial agreements with governments or businesses to sell the power our projects produce.
Who pays for any road upgrades required?
It will be a condition of any development approval that we pay for any upgrades to State, Council or landowner roads required to transport components to site.
If construction traffic damages roads, we will also pay for repairs.
Who pays for any electrical transmission upgrades required?
We pay for any electrical transmission upgrades that are needed to connect and operate the project in the electricity grid.
This includes construction and maintenance costs for the life of the project.
How will the Goyder Renewables Zone proposal be assessed?
Pathway: The Goyder Renewables Zone will use the ‘Crown Sponsorship’ pathway under section 49 of the Development Act 1993 (SA).
This does not mean the project has backing or pre-approval from the State Government. It means the State Government recognises that the project is likely to deliver potentially significant infrastructure, and the final determination should be made at a Ministerial level.
Decision-maker: The ultimate decision on the Goyder Renewables Zone development application will be made by the South Australian Minister for Planning. This is typically based on a recommendation from the State Commission Assessment Panel.
Comments: Comments on the development application will typically be sought by the State Government from multiple bodies, such as:
- Goyder Regional Council
- South Australian Country Fire Service
- South Australian Department for the Environment and Water
- South Australian Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
- South Australian Environmental Protection Authority
- Civil Aviation Safety Authority
- Department of Defence
Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC): The Federal Government will assess the project’s environmental impacts via the EPBC Act. This assessment is separate and additional to comments from the South Australian Department for Environment and Water.
We strive to not only meet, but exceed, minimum requirements under planning and environmental legislation to produce fully compliant, best practice projects with exceptional community outcomes.
Do wind or solar farms decrease property values?
Studies into the potential impact of wind farm developments on property prices, including by the NSW Valuer-General (2009) and Urbis (2016), have not found any consistent evidence to link wind farms with adverse impacts on property prices.
This is particularly so for primary production rather than lifestyle properties.
Health And Culture
Will the project reduce air quality?
Monitoring dust levels during construction is a basic requirement of each project. We use dust suppression measures wherever possible.
Dust-generating activities are assessed during windy conditions and are stopped and rescheduled if adequate control of dust levels cannot be achieved.
All machinery is checked during site inspections and daily pre-start checks. This ensures all machinery has appropriate emission control devices, is in good working order, and is maintained correctly.
Do you consider cultural heritage?
The land on which the Goyder Renewables Zone is proposed is part of the ancestral country of the Ngadjuri people.
We comply with all legislation to protect cultural heritage, and are fully committed to avoiding impacting on heritage sites. A cultural heritage survey may be carried out with the Ngadjuri people depending on the proposed location of assets.
We also have strong Aboriginal workforce participation targets, and strive to foster a deep, cooperative relationship with Aboriginal stakeholders across South Australia.
Do wind farms or solar panels impact flora and fauna?
We engage specialist consultants for detailed flora and fauna surveys to determine the ecological attributes of the land.
On all of our projects, we aim to minimise the impact on flora and fauna by designing projects outside areas of high conservation significance, and adopting control measures during construction.
During the detailed design, wind turbines will be micro-sited to minimise the potential impact on fauna habitat. Turbine heights will be selected to minimise the overlap between rotor swept area and bird flight heights.
Other mitigation measures include:
- preparing management plans
- identifying ‘no-go zones’ within the project site
- conducting pre-clearance surveys
We also consult with government departments of environment and biodiversity throughout development, construction and operation of projects, as well as local non-government organisations.
Do wind turbines or solar panels affect farm or domestic animals?
We built and operate the Hornsdale Wind Farm across numerous properties near Jamestown in South Australia.
Stock, including sheep and cattle, take a couple of days to get used to wind turbines, then are very comfortable with them. They rub up against turbines and use the shade from the towers during summer.
There are also some indications that in dry areas, condensation and run-off from the panels may support a higher growth rate of feed along the panel rows.
We also own and operate the Coleambally, Griffith, and Parkes solar farms on multiple properties in NSW, as well as Numurkah in Victoria. Sheep are grazing on many of our solar farms and we have conducted a successful sheep grazing trial at Parkes Solar Farm.
Do wind farms harm birds?
While wind farms are sometimes said to threaten birds, an energy governance study completed in Singapore has shown that wind farms harm 17 times fewer birds per unit of electricity produced than fossil fuel generation.
Studies show that wind farms are probably responsible for impacting birds at rates that are:
• 400 times fewer than cars
• 500 times fewer than pesticides
• 1200 times fewer than high-tension wires
Larger, modern turbines have blades that are well above the flight paths of the vast majority of birds.
The main exception is raptors, and we carry out detailed nest surveys and place generous buffers of 1 to 2km around any viable nest that is found. There is also evidence to suggest that raptors adjust to the presence of turbines and will avoid the blades.