AGL Energy Ltd to build huge windfarm at Silverton near Broken Hill NSW

AGL Energy Ltd announced “23/03/2012 SILVERTON WIND FARM DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS – a one page summary pdf. The ABC reported on this – and there is a Silverton Wind Farm web site. The two stage project will end up at 1000MW capacity which is about half of all the wind farms listed on this site.
They say there are planned 282 turbines in stage 1 – capacity 300MW – then another 316 turbines in stage 2 = total 1000MW for 598 turbines. The maths do not add up if the turbines are all planned to be of equal size.
I expect all of the claimed performance figures are exaggerated – as proposed wind farms usually are.
I wonder what size gas turbine power generator will be required somewhere nearby to balance this huge load of erratic electricity – similar to the Dalton gas fired proposal. AGL says nothing about this in their material on Silverton. I predict a White Elephant at Silverton – another loss for taxpayers and electricity users.

8 comments to AGL Energy Ltd to build huge windfarm at Silverton near Broken Hill NSW

  • pattoh

    Now the real question is whether the ABC super fund managers have taken a leaf out of the BBC guy’s book.

    Would they buy shares in AGL?

  • Graeme Inkster

    Obviously the Maths are those used for most green energy projects.
    A bit FREE with the facts, a lot of HOT air, endless RENEWABLE claims and BIODEGRADABLE performance.

    IF these figures mean anything beyond a public relations man’s doodling, then they mean turbines around 1.7 – 1.8 MW capacity.
    Rather small these days, but given the costs of transporting and erecting them in such a remote location, they may have been constrained by the carrying requirements of the railway. And who will pay for the power transmission lines?

    But I wouldn’t have thought that it was a great site for wind. Rather than the high capacity factor claimed for existing turbines in Australia, I think that this site would be lucky to average 25%. If my memory is right, when this site was first announced they were expected a capacity factor of 20%, so I wonder about the economics.

  • Ian George

    Wait until the next drought. Every time the wind blows, will the fine red dust particles ruin the performance of these turbines? Mmmm.

  • I would like to point out a few things here with respect to this Plant.

    Keep in mind that this has been under way for just on 4 years now, and while the admin part may be nearing completion, it is still to go to tender for construction, supply of nacelles, etc. Then it will start construction of Stage 1.

    All, up it may be ten years before delivery of its full potential power from the date of the proposals origin, or around 5 to 6 years from now, at best, if everything lines up first time around.

    Now, take the following link and I’ll show you some things that upon reading sound so great, but in actuality, are all carefully worded to sound good.

    www.silvertonwindfarm.com.au/web/au/swf/silverton-wind-farm-project/community-and-nsw-benefits

    The cost will be (approximately) $2 Billion. Note that the Federal and State subsidies at the construction end have not been stated here, so even that is a way off yet.

    See those 9 bullet points at the bottom of the text there.

    Point 1. Note how it is said here that this plant (when totally operational) will be supplying 3,500,000 MWH of power. This gives the Plant a Capacity Factor of 40%, and if it even gets close to that I will be positively astounded. Note how they use the typical ‘spin’ of saying this is sufficient for 430,000 NSW homes. They have taken that proposed total and knowing the average 24/7/365 consumption for NSW homes, they have just divided that number into their proposed output total. because the Wind Plant is only operating at a (theoretical) CF of 40%, then it is not supplying that full power for 24/7/365, and at no stage are those 430,000 homes connected just to this Plant, as the plant supplies the grid only, where power is consumed in 3 sectors, Residential (38%) Commerce (37%) and Industry (24%) But 40% CF. Really!

    The next 3 bullet points all sound spectacular. However, what needs to be added to each of those 3 bullet points is the following:

    If an equivalent sized coal fired power plant was to be constructed instead of this Wind Plant.

    Because at no stage are these actual reductions, because the currently operating plants will still be doing what they always do, because this Wind Plant provides such variable power output.

    The remaining bullet points are all feel good statements only.

    As is always the case with any Renewable Plant proposal, once it is translated correctly, an entirely different perspective is seen.

    Tony.

  • John Bromhead

    Warwick,

    AGL will regard this wind farm as part of an integrated portfolio of generation assets including the necessary gas generation to supply power when wind farms can’t, these powered by the company’s shale gas production. Under AEMO rules AGL can’t say “use my fossil fuel generation because my wind is down” but it can decide to buy its wind power for its “green power” customers (It is Australia’s largest electricity retailer with over two million customers) and to fulfil its statutory obligations.

    Part of this strategy is to

    increase control of peaking and renewable electricity generation to be largely self-sufficient in meeting customer needs and the mandatory renewable energy target

    Government involvement in wind farms is limited to providing the regulatory framework which makes wind farms and thus more gas generation necessary. Lots of both will be built to met the 20 percent renewable energy target by 2020.

    AGL uses renewable energy generation as part of its marketing. Try to find any mention of coal.

    AGL is Australia’s leading renewable energy company and is Australia’s largest private owner, operator and developer of renewable generation assets.
    AGL is taking action towards creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers.
    AGL has major investments in hydro and wind, as well as ongoing developments in key renewable areas including solar, geothermal, biomass, bagasse and landfill gas. AGL also operates retail, merchant energy and upstream gas businesses and has over three million customer accounts

    No mention that most of the electricity it generates comes from its 32 percent ownership of the brown coal fired power station Loy Yang and that it wants to move to 100 percent.

    AGL will probably reconfigure the specifications of the wind farm using fewer larger more efficient turbines.

  • Philip Bradley

    I happen to know the wind farm near Coral Bay in WA was out of commission for a month recently because mice chewed through control/data cables.

    No doubt there will be unanticipated and costly outages for this wind farm.

  • Graeme Inkster

    You are quite correct in saying that the maths don’t add up.

    Those 598 turbines are unlikely to cost less than $1200 million, even if they can find a bankrupt chinese manufacturer. In the UK the cost would be at least $1800 million, and they don’t have to transport their turbines any where near the distances AGL have chosen. That written before I chased down a estimate of the cost of about $2000 million.

    At the original estimated (and probable) capacity factor of 20%, those turbines will return 1.732 million MWh p.a.

    The electricity will, like all wind turbines, be mostly generated at non peak hours, therefore will not attract a premium price. See www.ercot.com/grid info for graph. Assuming that they get $62 a MWh (base cost of coal fired plus $23 tax), their return would be $107.38 million per year. That is a return of 5.36% p.a. BEFORE deducting operating and maintenance costs, interest repayments etc.
    I cannot image any large company going into a project of that size for a return less than the bank rate.

    Then there is the question of the transmission lines. Who pays for those? And they will lose at least 10% of their output in the lines. Will they get paid for what they put into the line, or for the useful amount delivered?

  • Graeme Inkster

    That should read www.ercot.com/grid info (if the Texans are awake .. I couldn’t reach it this morning). It shows the daily demand curve and wind turbine performance over several days.

    This Silverton project sounds more like a publicity generator, than a serious intention. I think John Bromhead is correct in putting it into the Marketing bracket. They would have to have a selling price of $120 -140 per MWh for this project to make financial sense.

    I don’t think we will hear too much about the project if Tony Abbott becomes P.M.

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