Waubra Wind Farm


Project Snapshot

  • Location: approximately 35 kilometres north-west of Ballarat in Victoria.
  • Capacity: 192MW, using 128 ACCIONA Windpower 1.5MW wind turbine generators.
  • Completion Date: July 2009
  • Energy Production: meets the energy needs of approximately 110,000 households each year.
  • Projected CO2 Emissions Benefit: approximately 650,000 tonnes annually.
  • Job creation: 200 manufacturing and installation jobs during construction from December 2007 to June 2009. A number of operations and maintenance roles will exist throughout the duration of the operation.
  • Project Value: A$450m.


Wind Farm design

ACCIONA Energy engaged in extensive consultation with the local community on the wind farm design. Detailed information on the design was presented to the Community Reference Group (CRG) and at a community information day. The completed, detailed design includes the electrical design, the selection of turbines that best fit the terrain at Waubra, a lighting plan for aviation safety and the design of a maintenance building. ACCIONA Energy continues to keep the community informed and engaged through quarterly meetings with the CRG, newsletters and project updates.

Electrical design

The design of the electrical system consists mostly of underground cabling, some overhead lines, five substations and a terminal substation. All electrical cables between turbines are installed underground.

Turbine selection

The Waubra Wind Farm site topography is a combination of hills and flat plains. Wind turbines have been selected to match the particular wind conditions and local terrain. The detailed design includes three turbine configurations; all are based on the same ACCIONA Windpower 1.5 megawatt model. Tower heights and blade lengths range from 110m to 120m.

Sustainable Maintenance Facility

The Waubra Wind Farm Maintenance Facility showcases an environmentally sustainable design and visually complements the surrounding environment. It is constructed from sustainable materials and is 100% powered by wind energy. The construction contract was awarded to the regional company AW Nicholson and was completed in October 2008. The maintenance facility has 26 permanent on-site staff. The 880m² facility is used for all maintenance activities and also provides storage space for equipment, vehicles and spare parts.

Construction

Turbine installation commenced in December 2007 and was completed in June 2009. Energisation and commissioning was completed in July 2009. The first turbines began generating green power in February 2009 and the entire site was fully operational by July 2009.

ACCIONA Windpower, ACCIONA Energy’s sister company, supplied the turbine components and managed the construction of the wind turbines.

The towers were produced by Keppel Prince Engineering, a Portland-based company, and Haywards Engineering in Tasmania. The nacelles and hubs were manufactured by ACCIONA Windpower in Pamplona, Spain, and the blades by Tecsis in Brazil.

Electrical works

Electrical works commenced in January 2008. Downer EDI Engineering was the lead contractor for the electrical works including laying underground cables, constructing 66KV overhead lines and building the five substations. Victorian company Powercor Electrical Services was subcontracted to construct the overhead lines.

Regional project benefits

The Waubra Wind Farm is a significant local investment in the region and is having a positive effect on the regional economy. The wind farm also provides additional income for local landowners involved in the project and is expected to bring tourism and the associated benefits to the area.

To date more than 20 regional businesses have been involved as subcontractor, including Eureka Concrete of Ballarat. More than A$200 million worth of supply, building and construction contracts were awarded by ACCIONA to local Australian companies for the project, predominantly in Victoria; a further A$2 billion worth of projects have been approved for wind farm construction in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Environment

ACCIONA Energy is committed to reducing potential environmental impacts by undertaking environmental studies, carefully siting turbines and managing any other issues. Details of some of these studies are provided below.

  • Spring Vegetation Survey
    During spring 2005, a native vegetation survey was undertaken and a vegetation map of the project site was prepared.
    The results of the survey showed that the native vegetation providing habitat suitable for native animals (e.g. Fat-Tailed Dunnart) is very limited in the study area (pictured right). Areas where potential impacts could occur were identified and avoided in the final design.
  • Bats and Avifauna
    The Bat and Avifauna Management Plan was developed in 2006 to monitor and manage any potential impacts on birds and bats during the wind farm’s operation. Previous assessments of avifauna and bat studies on the site concluded that the risk to birds and bats was very low.
    A comprehensive monitoring program was introduced with benchmarks of acceptable bird and bat impacts and mitigation measures involving a range of habitat, site and food source manipulation to reduce habitation by any adversely impacted species.
    A routine two year monitoring program is required as a condition of the planning permit.
  • Brolgas
    A survey of local landowners near the site was undertaken to record any previous sightings of Brolgas in the local area and identify any necessary mitigation measures.
    The results of landowner survey, updated data from the Atlas of Victorian Wildlife and previous surveys indicate that the site is very unlikely to support breeding Brolgas and does not contain flocking sites. Although movements across the site may occur on a seasonal basis, regular daily movements within the wind farm boundaries are considered very unlikely.
    Brolga monitoring and management measures will be implemented after the commissioning of the wind farm. These include enhancing wetland habitat outside the site, the monitoring of Brolgas in the region in autumn and spring and undertaking bird mortality monitoring.

Cultural Heritage

The Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) was developed to monitor and manage any possible impacts on cultural heritage at the Waubra Wind Farm site. The plan was prepared by Biosisconsultation with the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative.

The field survey identified 19 Aboriginal and two historical archaeological sites, as well as areas of potential sensitivity and recommendations for sub-surface testing and/or monitoring of ground disturbance. The Aboriginal sites include 18 isolated artefact sites and one artefact scatter. The historical sites included a dry stone enclosure and a homestead complex.

ACCIONA Energy, the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative and Biosis Research have also undertaken a staggered program of sub-surface testing, for turbine and access track locations, to provide further information on the location of artefacts.

The CHMP establishes protocols and principles for the recording and management of cultural heritage during construction. The plan also sets out roles and responsibilities of ACCIONA Energy, the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative, cultural heritage monitors and the archaeologists.

Environmental Management Plan

The Environmental Management Plan (EMP) addresses the environmental issues associated with the construction and operation of the Waubra Wind Farm and the methods in which these issues will be managed.

The Stage 1 EMP for the construction period included:

  • Construction and Work Site Management Plan;
  • Sediment, Erosion and Water Quality Management Plan;
  • Hydrocarbon and Hazardous Substances Management Plan;
  • Wildfire Prevention and Response Plan;
  • Cultural Heritage Management Plan;
  • Geological and Geomorphological Cultural Heritage Plan;
  • Native Vegetation Protocol;
  • Pest Animal Management Plan; and
  •  Weed and Pathogen Management Plan.


The Stage 1 EMP details:

  • Overarching framework for environmental management during the construction, detailing the management approach, training to be undertaken and reporting processes
  • Relevant legislative approvals and permits
  • Specific management plans (listed above)
  • Performance objectives and criteria and control procedures are specified
  • Monitoring required for each stage of the construction process
  • Emergency contact details and non conformance forms for use during construction.


The Stage 2 EMP for the operation and decommissioning phase of the Waubra Wind Farm has been developed and implemented in tandem with the Stage 1 EMP.

The Stage 2 EMP encompasses environmental management measures to minimise potential environmental impacts during the operational phase of the wind farm. Key issues addressed in the Stage 2 EMP include noise management, native fauna management and hazardous materials management. The Stage 2 EMP has been approved by the DPCD. The implementation of the EMP will be monitored by DPCD and updated if required, throughout the life of the Waubra Wind Farm.

Bushfire Mitigation Plan

ACCIONA Energy has developed a Bushfire Mitigation Plan which outlines the procedures, standards, codes and guidelines that ACCIONA Energy employs to minimise the chance of bushfires starting as a result of the operation of the Waubra Wind Farm.

The Bushfire Mitigation Plan has been prepared in accordance with the Electricity Safety (Bushfire Mitigation) Regulations 2003 (Vic) and can be found here

ACCIONA keeps the community informed of activities in regular newsletters.