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The new wind farms coming online and evolving the grid

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s a wind turbine.

Wind farms in WA are blowing a gale of cleaner, greener energy into the grid..

With technology getting smarter and more affordable, we’re finding innovative ways to integrate large renewable energy sources into the grid. And wind power is among the renewables leading the charge.

Wind farms in WA

Given our state is home to the third windiest capital city in the world, we have a lot to gain from harnessing wind power.

Wind farm technology has come a long way since 1987, when the nation’s first wind farm –  Salmon Beach Wind Farm (not far from Esperance) was built. Back then there was only six wind turbines in operation, with blades measuring 8m and the hub heights sitting a mere 22m off the ground.

Fast forward to today and a new wind farm near Eneabba, which is set for completion in 2020*, will house 51 turbines measuring 84m above the ground with 66m long blades.

WA currently has more than 8 wind farms in operation. With wind being the cheapest source of large-scale renewable energy, we’re evolving the grid to safely and reliably deliver this carbon-free energy to local communities.

Our engineers have designed new electricity substations, poles and wires to connect hundreds of megawatts of new renewable energy from wind farms across WA’s south-west corner.

Yandin wind farm

More recently, we designed and built infrastructure to connect Alinta Energy’s new wind farm in Yandin, 175km north of Perth, to the network. Yandin first began exporting to the SWIS in June 2020.

By designing and constructing two new terminals, modifying two existing terminals, and building a new 10 kilometre transmission line, we connected WA’s largest wind farm to our electricity network. To demonstrate the magnitude of design and construction works required for this project, here are the numbers:

  • Western Power crew and Contractor personnel = 100
  • Steel poles = 40
  • Lattice towers = 17
  • Tower average weight = 65 tonne
  • Wooden poles = 50
  • Total m3 of concrete = 3000m3

Connecting Yandin wind farm to the grid

Up to 214MW of renewable energy now flows flow through our grid, making it easier to deliver cleaner, greener energy to WA.

But this project wasn’t without its challenges.

The challenges of connecting the wind farm to the grid

The site for the new terminals is naturally sloping and is also prone to water-logging, which meant the area had to be raised to allow construction. Given this site was the only available location for the new terminals, our Engineering and Design team made the best of it and came up with some unique solutions.

As Linden Bronleigh, Acting Engineering Services Manager explains, the sheer amount of material needed to fill the site resulted in some clever design thinking.

“Yandin Terminal is located on ground that is sloping and waterlogged, requiring the level to be raised by transporting huge amounts of fill material to the site. The requirement for so much fill material presented an opportunity for the civil engineers to optimise the earthworks design, which resulted in a 25% reduction in earthworks volume and cost savings of more than $800,000,” said Linden.

Constant rain during construction only added to the complexity. Compaction of the surface was impossible due to the rainfall runoff and ground conditions, and heavy machinery wasn’t an option they could explore.

Overcoming these challenges

How on earth did they overcome this?

The site was divided into zones and each area was tackled separately. Temporary cut-off drainage was installed, along with dewatering systems and various construction techniques were used to compact the ground and make way for the new terminals.

With engineering expertise and a diligent design process, we addressed the challenges of this project early and found solutions to overcome them.

The result?

A cost-effective and viable means to connect hundreds of megawatts of new, renewable energy to the grid.

New wind farms in WA

Let’s take a look at a few other new wind farms in WA.

Warradarge wind farm

At an almond farm just north of Warradarge in the Mid-West, we set about helping connect the customer’s wind farm to the grid. Nineteen turbines travelled all the way from Portugal to Geraldton, and underwent 20 weeks of refurbishment before they could be installed and connected to the grid. Today, the almond farm happily offsets their load and generates electricity into the grid. It’s a win-win for all of us.

Badgingarra wind farm

Connecting the Badgingarra Wind Farm (180km north of Perth) in 2019 was a mammoth project. More than 200 of our crew safely delivered a new substation and transmission lines within 10 months – a job that normally takes 24 months.

The potential output of the Badgingarra Wind Farm is equivalent to the power required for more than 115,000 WA homes. From an environmental perspective, this clean energy initiative has the ability to save more than 420,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

With WA being a hot spot for solar and wind, it’s no wonder there are wind farms across our state harnessing this power. 

And we are helping make that happen – by integrating this endless source of energy to the grid, we can help give WA customers better access to cleaner, greener energy.

* Warradarge wind farm was completed towards the end of 2020.

** Yandin wind farm was officially opened in May 2021.

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