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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Wind Farm at Crookwell, NSW

Just south from Crookwell (approx. 50Kms north of Goulburn) there is a wind farm.
It is located right on top of the Great Dividing Range, and as the sign politely says, it is located here because Crookwell has clean air. I think they mean that this place is as "windy as hell".
These devices are very large, and they looked like they were just a few hundred metres away, but, without anything else to give them a scale, it is hard to tell. They might have been 500 metres away, or more.The point about the distance away is that I could hear absolutely no noise from these wind turbines. I have seen these devices previously, in Germany, and one could hear a quiet "whoosh" as the turbines rotated. But it does not seem to me to be too noisy, or intrusive.

No doubt the sign is a PR statement for wind energy (and Eraring), but I feel this form of energy is less intrusive on the Environment than the coal powered Power Stations run by Eraring Energy. It surely will help minimise Global Warming is we have more of these Wind Power generators.
If you buy "Green Energy" this where it comes from.
Here is a chart about how much energy is produced, depending upon the strength of the wind (obviously). There is a cut-out mechanism to prevent damage to the turbines in ultra high wind conditions (as it would be there tonight).


mick said...

Definitely better that coal-fired generating plants! I have heard that these turbines kill a number of flying birds. Do you know if this is true?

Gaye from the Hunter said...

Hi Denis,

Interesting post.

Driving up the New England Highway, exiting Scone, there are signs lining the road for public attention:

"No Bickam Coal Mine - save our rivers".

And coupled with "No wind farms".

The mentality defies belief. I agree with the "no mine" part - I personally believe that no new coal mines should be approved, that 'greener' technology should be developed and employed. So what it is that the Upper Hunter objects so strongly about wind energy, I just do not know.


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick and Gaye
As far as I know, stories about bird kills came from Europe where large numbers of birds are migratory. Relatively few of our birds here are migratory, Mick. But you are in a hot spot for migratory birds.
Wikipedia says this has been studied and ""The available evidence suggests that appropriately positioned wind farms do not pose a significant hazard for birds."
Clearly close to shorelines is not a great spot, in known migratory bird locations.
The rejection of a wind turbine in Victoria was supposedly more "political" than environmental. In that case, the migratory parrots (Blue-winged and Orange-bellied Parrots) which cross Bass Strait each year.
You may read more on Wikipedia:

I am surprised that the Bickham Mine opponents also oppose wind power. That does appear to be contradictory, and would arguably lower their environmental credibility.
I know some of those people, so that might get me into trouble. But given the choice between a mine and a wind farm I know what I would prefer.

Bronwen Scott, FCD said...

The SW coast of Vic has a number of wind farms. They look spectacular, for sure, and have to be better than coal-fired power stations.

I think that the problem with bird strike is that the tips of the vanes are moving at quite a high speed. It doesn't look that fast from our ground-based perspective but I wouldn't want to dodge one!

Anonymous said...

Hi Denis, Yes for wind power, I am all in favour! I have visited the 'Windy Hill' area at Ravenshoe on the Atherton Tablelands to look at the wind turbines - there is barely a whisper of noise but they are simply awesome to look at. (such an overworked word but I mean 'awesome' in its truest sense)
I think your comments re the danger to bird life are correct and the Vic example is spot on.

I read your previous post on 'political spite' with utter dismay. Just couldn't think of a suitable comment but its good that you put that information out into the public gaze.


Gouldiae said...

G'day Denis,
Wind, solar, hot rocks, tidal... has got to be the way we go, surely. I've always tried to be optimistic on this issue - we'll wake up in time - but I'm beginning to wonder. Yep, I think the OBParrot was a 'red herring' actually!

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Bronwen, Barbara and Gouldiae.
Looks like something of a consensus (amongst Nature Bloggers anyway) - in favour of wind and other non-carbon sources of energy (or less carbon anyway).
I just drove to Canberra and saw a new set of wind turbines on the Cullerin Range (west of Goulburn), and the much larger group of turbines opposite Lake George (between Canberra and Gouldburn). Photos will go up in a few days.
I know these ones are to be dedicated to offset the power demand from the Desal Plant in Sydney (of which I am very critical).
So, in addition to new sources of power, we ought look at more rational use of power (i.e., avoiding wasteful, inefficient technologies such as desalination of salt water, when we can capture rain water, and re-use (treat) storm water and sewerage - just as is done in most other developed countries.
Thanks for the comments, everybody.
Great to have you all on side.

Flabmeister said...

G'day Denis

I have used Google Earth to find the Crookwell Wind Farm (at 34:31:10S 149:33:19E). To my surprise - and possibly yours - the nearest turbine is 910m from the cente ofthe viewing area!

The Lake George turbines are best seen from the Bungendore-Tarago Road.

Personally I am all in favour of them. The energy is quite renewable (although of course the manufacture of the towers and turbines does use up resources and generate pollutants). I have listened to the ones art Crookwell and they make no noise.

WRT to birds being killed I think the jury is still out (but in my expectation they are firming up the words of refutation). There was a fuss about a proposed site here (Carwoola) where it was claimed they would kill wedgetails. Another resident has commented that he has seen wedgetails soaring around military helicopters on exercises in the area. If they can dodge helicopters they should have no issues with turbines.

Sorry this got so long!

Best regards


Denis Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Martin
What a resourceful chap you are - I never thought of looking up Google Earth to measure the distance.
I guessed "500 metres or maybe more". I was aware that with no obvious "scale" to judge these things by, it is very hard to work out how large they really are, and how far away.
I agree about the lack of noise, but at 910 metres, that is hardly surprising. Farmers might have a different opinion. But compared to the noise of aeroplanes landing and taking off it is surely negligible. Even a small aeroplane flying around the countryside is far more noise-intrusive.
Re bird kills, most of the claims come from the Northern Hemisphere, where dense flocks of birds migrate vast distances - usually in tight groups (eg, waders and waterbirds - such as Geese, etc). They often fly at night. As you know, our domestic migratory birds tend to move with much less intensity. For example, our Honeyeaters fly short distances from tree to tree, in daylight.
Therefore these things pose little risk - in my opinion.
Locations close to shore-lines near key inter-continental migratory bird routes (such as "Micks" Sandy Straits and famous places on the West Coast) ought be avoided. Bass Strait, where the Tasmanian birds are known to cross, is another case in point.
Apart from that, I say we need to replace coal mines, and this is ONE reasonable alternative.
Yes, I acknowledge there are some elements of non-renewability (in their construction), but given the current coal mines which are enormously polluting, these factors pale in comparison.
Thanks for your comment.
I photographed the Lake George ones a few days ago, and will post about them soon. They are far more numerous, and more highly visible. But the issues are the surely same.
I am sure there are issues when these things are built in close proximity to houses, but in rural locations, away from houses, I feel we need to accommodate them. The conventional alternative (coal) is no longer acceptable.