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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

28 July 2004

Two new wind projects to benefit remote communities

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, today announced up to $1.6 million Australian Government funding to install a wind turbine at Bremer Bay on Western Australia's south coast and $500,000 to install WA-made wind turbines on Home Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Senator Campbell said the two innovative projects would not only increase power reliability, but also decrease the use of diesel for power generation.

"The people of Bremer Bay have long suffered an unreliable power supply," he said.

"This funding will help Western Power to replace the existing diesel generators with a 600 kilowatt wind turbine and new diesel generators that are specially modified to allow for maximum contribution to the town's electricity from the wind turbine.

"The new turbine is expected to generate around 1,800 megawatt hours (MWh) per year, meeting up to 40% of Bremer Bay's electricity needs and reducing diesel consumption by around 340,000 litres per year.

"The new turbine and power station will enable the Bremer Bay community to have access to a reliable and continuously available electricity supply, and will further demonstrate Western Power and its partner Powercorp's world reputation to maximise wind contribution to diesel powered grids."

A new fully automated diesel power station, four 20 kilowatt wind turbines and a state-of-the-art control system will be installed on Home Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The successful tenderer, NT company Powercorp, sub-contracted two Western Australian companies, Westwind and Diesel and Wind Systems.

Senator Campbell said the $500,000 funding from the Australian Government's Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme, would allow up to 15 per cent of the Island's electricity to come from wind turbines.

"The new turbines will save around 50,000 litres of diesel per year," he said. "Another benefit is that they are mounted on 30 metre high towers that can be lowered to the ground for maintenance which will ensure the turbines are not damaged during cyclones. This type of wind turbine has already been effectively demonstrated at Exmouth on the north west coast of WA."

Senator Campbell said the environmental benefits were an important factor in Australian Government support for the two projects.

About $200 million is available from the Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme, administered by the Australian Greenhouse Office, to support the installation of renewable generation equipment that displaces diesel generation in remote parts of Australia.


Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme

Many people, businesses and towns in remote locations rely on diesel generators for the provision of electricity. The Australian Greenhouse Office estimates that over 700 million litres of diesel are consumed each year in Australia for the generation of electricity in remote areas. Due to the high costs of maintaining and fuelling diesel generators, many remote households make do with electricity only being available for 8 to 12 hours a day. Renewable generation (usually photovoltaic panels and wind turbines), combined with inverters and batteries, can provide access to affordable 24-hour power.

The aim of the Renewable Remote Power Generation Programme is to displace the use of diesel fuel used for electricity generation by increasing the uptake of renewable generation technologies in remote locations that do not have access to the main electricity grid. Funding for the program is the relevant Diesel Fuel Excise paid by public power generators in the financial years 2000-01 to 2003-04. To the end of June 2004, RRPGP projects and sub-programs worth a total of over $128 million had been approved.

Bremer Bay Wind Project - Western Australia

Bremer Bay, on the south coast of WA, is no longer connected to the main grid. It is currently serviced by a temporary 2,750 kVA diesel power station operated by Western Power. There are no plans to re-connect Bremer Bay to the main grid in the near future due to the weak network at the fringe of the grid, the high cost of transmission infrastructure and the relatively small load.

The Bremer Bay Wind Project involves the installation of a 600 kW wind turbine and associated control equipment. The diesel power station is simultaneously being upgraded with three new 320 kW diesel generators modified for low load operation.

The advanced control system and low load diesels will maximize the use of wind energy available to the system. This will allow the wind turbine to generate about 1,800 MWh of renewable electricity each year, meeting up to 40% of the town's electricity supply and reducing diesel consumption by an average of about 340,000 litres per year, resulting in a greenhouse gas reduction of over 900 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Cocos Islands Wind Farm Project

Cocos (Keeling) Islands is an Australian Territory located in the Indian Ocean 2,950 km north-west of Perth; there are 27 coral islands in the group, and the only inhabited islands are Home and West Islands.

Total cost for the new wind/diesel project is $3.5 million for the installation of a new fully automated diesel power station, an 80 kW wind farm and state-of-the-art wind-diesel control system. The wind turbines have 30m tilt down towers for surviving cyclones.

It is estimated that the wind farm will produce about 220 MWh per year, supplying an estimated 15% of the Island's electricity. This will result in a reduction in diesel consumption of around 50,000 litres a year leading to a greenhouse gas reduction of around 150 tonnes CO2 per year.

The project also showcases leading Australian renewable energy technologies for remote area power supplies including small scale wind turbines and wind-diesel integration and control technologies.

Commonwealth of Australia