SOUTH Australian Premier Jay Weatherill and Sustainability and Environment Minister Ian Hunter last week officially opened Stage 2 of the Snowtown Wind Farm, which has more than tripled the capacity of the operation and made it the state's largest wind farm.
The Snowtown Wind Farm, which spans more than 30 kilometres and has been generating electricity on the Hummocks and Barunga ranges since 2008, is located approximately 170 kilometres north of Adelaide and owned by New Zealand company Trustpower.
Mr Weatherill said the $450 million addition of 90 direct drive Siemens turbines will increase the Snowtown Wind Farm capacity from 99 megawatts (MW) to 369 MW or 1,350 gigawatt hours per year – enough to power 230,000 homes.
"South Australia is the leading state for wind energy investment with 1,473 megawatts, equivalent to 43 per cent of the nation's installed capacity," Mr Weatherill said.
"This wind farm has become a landmark for the Snowtown community and the mid-north, directly supporting more than 350 jobs since 2008.
"I would like to thank the developer Trustpower on its work in Snowtown, ensuring the community has been engaged throughout the project, and for their consideration for the local environment and Aboriginal heritage."
Mr Hunter said that South Australia's resources, energy and renewable assets play a key role in supporting the state to be a place to do business, create jobs, develop industry and attract investment.
"South Australia is a clear example that rather than blocking economic growth, transitioning to a low carbon economy can drive investment and create jobs," he said.
"In 2013-14, renewable energy contributed to 39 per cent of total electricity generation in South Australia and, in September, we announced we will increase our target to 50 per cent by 2025.
"The Abbott Government's refusal to rule out abolishing or reducing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) is putting South Australia's future renewable energy investment in serious jeopardy.
"The future of the $1.5 billion Ceres wind farm proposed for the Yorke Peninsula is now under threat as a result of uncertainty created by the Abbott Government on the RET – putting hundreds of regional jobs at risk," the Minister said.
The new turbines have been placed adjacent to the existing Stage 1 turbines on the Barunga Range and also to the south, along the Hummock Range, and will be connected by an electrical and communications network to a substation at Barunga Gap.
Last month, Parliament passed legislation making it possible for a wind farm developer to apply for a licence to build a wind farm on Crown land subject to pastoral lease, and for that wind farm to co-exist with a pastoral leaseholder's activities.
The legislation also expedites access to pastoral land for solar energy projects and will ensure the benefits of renewable energy continue to flow to regional South Australia.
Thumbnail photo: Snowtown Wind Farm, South Australia / Clarkecb / Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.