In Traprock country, 60 kilometers west of Warwick, construction has begun on one of the largest wind farms in the southern hemisphere.
- Construction has begun on Australia’s largest wind farm, one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere
- The $2 billion project will create around 650 jobs and power 700,000 homes
- Based in sheep grazing country, the landowners welcome the project in hopes it will support the wider community
The MacIntyre Wind Precinct is expected to cost $2 billion and will produce 1,026 megawatts of power from 180 wind turbines.
Brett Wickham, chief executive of the company behind the project, Acciona Energia, said the project will create 650 jobs, around half of which are to source from the local community.
Learn from the past
Wind farms have long been a topic of debate among landownersbut former National Farmers Federation (NFF) president Brent Finlay said he worked with Acciona Enegia to ensure this project would be different.
He will see many wind turbines in his house, as well as a number of them on his property.
“They’re all a good distance from my house and all my neighbors’ houses, so that’s important,” Mr Finlay said.
“But it’s [more about] how the business behaves while on your property.
The MacIntyre Wind Precinct has been compared to another energy industry with a similar land acquisition process – coal seam gas, or CSG.
Brent Finlay said that during his time as NFF president, he sat around many kitchen tables, witnessing the shock of landowners who saw drilling rigs coming up their driveway at the improvised.
He said he had higher hopes for the wind farm industry.
More than just power generation
Up the road in Karara, Lachlan McLeish raises cattle and sheep on his property.
The wind turbines will be within sight, on the property of its neighbours.
Although he will not directly benefit from the project, Mr McLeish said it is not just landowners who will benefit from the project.
His property is on Traprock country, which is ideal for grazing but is not considered arable for crop production.
He said that is why the area was perfect for the wind farm.
“You wouldn’t put a wind turbine at the bottom of a ravine, so there’s a lot of wind here so they can do that,” he said.
Mr. Findlay agreed. He said it actually provided an opportunity for farmers to diversify into a country just used for grazing.
“Diversification and the ability to diversify is really important in agriculture.”
Will your home be powered by this farm?
Construction is expected to take two and a half years, with the last turbine to be installed in October 2024.
The enclosure is expected to power 700,000 homes. So, will your home be powered by the farm?
Given the power demands across Australia, Mr Wickham said the project was in a perfect position.
“It connects to a strong backbone, so a transmission network reasonably close to your biggest demand hub, which is Brisbane,” he said.
“I would expect most, if not all, of the energy for this project to be consumed in this area of southeast Queensland.”
Queensland’s Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, echoed that sentiment.
“We’ve seen a lot of debate over the past two weeks about energy reliability and energy prices,” he said.
“And the impact of the war in Ukraine is clearly driving up global energy prices.
Mr de Brenni said the Queensland Government would be ready to direct the energy generated by this farm to Queensland homes as soon as it hits the grid.
“Queensland desperately needs more wind power, especially during the evening peak hours between five and seven o’clock,” he said.
“That’s where we see strong winds in places like southern Queensland that will complement what we have in terms of the solar profile.”
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