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The project is located at Captains Mountain in the Toowoomba Region of Queensland, approximately 10km southwest of Millmerran and 80km southwest of Toowoomba. The Millmerran Power Station is nearby the proposed development area, and the project is accessible via the Gore Highway.
Wind speed is a key driver when it comes to generating wind energy. To generate energy in the most cost-effective way, turbines need to be placed in areas of high and consistent winds. The Captains Mountain area is considered a great spot for this.
The project will consist of approximately 35 turbine locations with a combined maximum capacity of around 250MW. The project may be built in one or more stages.
The project will likely utilise Vestas V162-7.2 MW or larger turbines. These turbines will have a hub height of around 166m and a maximum blade tip height of up to 255m.
The project will be assessed by the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning, through the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA). A development application will need to be lodged to SARA and assessed against State code 23: Wind farm development of the State Development Assessment Provisions. The development application will be prepared by a qualified independent consultant.
In addition, the project may be referred to the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy for assessment and approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, if required.
We are dedicated to positive engagement throughout all stages of the wind farm’s lifecycle. This includes site selection all the way to returning the land to its original state.
We will continue to work closely with government at all levels, landowners, people who live nearby, indigenous communities, local businesses, and the wider community. We want to keep everyone informed and involve them in the decision-making process where possible.
Climate change is pushing Australia and the rest of the world to move away from fossil fuels towards cleaner sources of energy. Wind energy is a clean and inexhaustible resource that does not produce any pollution or emissions during operation.
Wind energy is now more cost-effective than new energy generation from coal and natural gas. In combination with other renewable energy projects like solar, wind energy is helping to lower the overall cost of electricity.
As of year end 2021, there was more than 9,100 MW of wind capacity installed across Australia. Wind farms accounted for nearly 12% of the total electricity generated in the country in 2021.
Compared to traditional energy sources such as coal and gas, wind farms:
- require no invasive mining, extraction or burning of fossil fuels
- emit no greenhouse gas during operations
- emit no fine particle pollution, sulphur dioxide, or oxides of nitrogen
- require no water during operation
- have limited environmental impacts from construction.
All emissions generated across the turbine lifecycle are offset in the first year of plant operation.
Wind farms have significantly reduced carbon footprints compared to other electricity-generating sources. A typical Vestas wind turbine only emits around 1% of the carbon emissions per kWh of electricity that would be generated by a coal-fired power plant.
Wind turbines convert the natural movement of air into mechanical energy through rotation of the turbine blades. This mechanical energy is converted into electricity, which is sent to the electrical grid.
The Captains Mountain Wind Farm will be built using Vestas wind turbines. More than 160,000 MW of Vestas turbines have been installed in 88 countries around the world, accounting for almost 1 in 5 of all turbines installed worldwide.
Wind farms are considered to be one of the cheapest forms of new electricity generation, along with solar energy, and can produce energy at a significantly lower cost than fossil fuel generation. The project is not dependent on government subsidies for construction or operation.
Several studies have examined the potential impacts of wind farms on property values, including Review of the Impact of Wind Farms on Property Values (Urbis, 2016) available here, and Assessment of the Impact of Wind Farms on Surrounding Land Values in Australia (Preston Rowe Paterson, 2013) available here.
These studies have found no evidence to conclude that wind farms can be linked to adverse impacts on property values.
Most wind farms are developed on farmland, and the presence of wind turbines is often compatible with existing farming activities. The turbines only take up a small amount of land, and landowners can continue to graze their livestock or grow crops as usual. In fact, animals have been observed using the towers for shelter from the sun and inclement weather. Additionally, the income provided to landowners hosting wind farm infrastructure can help their business become more resilient to the impacts of droughts, fires and commodity price fluctuations.
Captains Mountain Wind Farm will seek to minimise the impact to local flora and fauna by designing the project to avoid areas of high conservation significance. Additionally, we will adopt best practice control measures to minimise impacts to biodiversity during construction.
As part of project development, we will engage specialist consultants to undertake detailed flora and fauna surveys of the site. Both desktop and field surveys will be conducted to establish the ecological attributes of the land. Field surveys will be conducted across wet and dry seasons.
The results of the surveys and proposed mitigation measures will be documented in the project’s Development Application and will be assessed by the QLD State Assessment and Referral Agency as part of the project’s development consent.
We will consult with local Aboriginal groups and other local stakeholders during project development and design. Vestas will also engage a specialist consultant to assess potential impacts related to cultural heritage and how to mitigate these impacts. At all times, the project will be developed in compliance with laws regarding the protection of cultural heritage.
The project will deliver significant benefits to the region and local communities, including:
- Significant investment in the Millmerran community and surrounding region
- Opportunities for local contractors and businesses
- Up to 200 new jobs expected to be created during construction
- Around 10 long-term service and maintenance jobs created during project operation
- Development of new skilled labour in the region within the growing renewable energy industry
As development progresses, Vestas will also gather input from the local community and stakeholders to best understand the needs and appropriate structure for a community benefit fund to be associated with this project.
The project will create around 200 new jobs during construction. Around 10 long-term service and maintenance jobs will be created during project operation. Construction and operation of the project will require a range of skills including engineering, trades (electrical, mechanical, construction), transport, building material providers, equipment operators, consultants and administrative staff.
Captains Mountain Wind Farm plans to work in partnership with the local community to design a community benefits fund that delivers tangible and positive results. This scheme is intended to last for the life of the project. Further details will be provided as the project develops.
We expect to begin construction in 2026, subject to development consent and grid connection approval. Construction will take approximately 18-24 months to complete.
We understand that water is a critically important issue for the Millmerran community. During construction, water will be required for concrete batching and potentially for dust suppression. Vestas will source water from local supplies, subject to availability and within the constraints of the development consent for the project.
Once the wind farm is constructed, water will only be required to meet domestic/personal requirements for maintenance staff.
Recognising the significance of water for the Millmerran community, Captains Mountain Wind Farm will source water from local suppliers for concrete batching and dust suppression during construction, provided that it is available and within the constraints of the project's development consent. After the wind farm is constructed, water will only be required for the everyday needs of maintenance personnel.
We will survey local and regional roads during project development to identify a suitable transport route to the project site. Currently, we expect that wind turbines will be transported from the Port of Brisbane through to Toowoomba via the Warrego Highway (National Highway A2), and then from Toowoomba to the project site via the Gore Highway (National Highway A39).
We will engage with Councils, local stakeholders, and the broader community to solicit feedback about proposed route options. The final proposed route, and any required road upgrades, will be described in the Development Application which will be submitted to the Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) for assessment and approval.
Many reviews of research literature conducted by leading health and research organisations worldwide, including Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), have concluded there is no published evidence to link wind turbines with adverse health effects.
Overall, it is important to note that while more research is needed to fully understand any potential health impacts of wind farms, many studies have found that wind farm noise is generally at levels that are unlikely to cause health problems.
Wind turbine movement creates sound; however, people generally find they can have a conversation at the wind turbine base without having to raise their voices. The noise impact from a wind turbine will depend on wind speed, wind direction, topography, vegetation, and the distance from the turbine
The wind farm will have a design life of 30 years. At the end of this period, it may be possible to replace some equipment and extend the project for a further operating period, though this would require a new development approval.
At the end of its operational life, the wind farm will be deconstructed in accordance with the Queensland Wind Farm State Code and supporting planning guideline. In addition, contracts with landowners require that wind turbines and other infrastructure are removed at the end of the lease term.
Decommissioning will involve de-energising, disconnecting, dismantling, demolishing and removing the wind turbines and other operational infrastructure (e.g. maintenance buildings, substations and power lines). We will also rehabilitate roads and fencing in consultation with host landowners.
The wind farm owner will be fully responsible for plant decommissioning, including removing the wind farm infrastructure and rehabilitating the site in compliance with the conditions of development consent.
The typical Vestas wind turbine is around 88% recyclable. This includes the steel which forms the tower and the aluminium and copper used in electrical equipment within the turbine. Vestas has announced a goal of achieving zero-waste wind turbines by 2040.
Blades are constructed of carbon and glass fibre composites, polyurethane foam and epoxy adhesives. Turbine blades are the most challenging component to recycle, but there are already a number of technologies available for recycling of blades, and no turbine blades will be disposed in the local landfill.
Vestas has committed to not landfill any blades in Europe by 2025, which means we are now upscaling and investing in existing and new recycling solutions that will benefit other regions as well, including Australia.