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Wind Farm Tour by Community Action for Sustainability Group

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by Rosey Pounsett for 5THE FM newsonlinewattlerangenow

A Tantanoola Wind Farm tour was organised recently by the Mount Gambier Community Action for Sustainability group. A mini bus was used to transport about 18 people from Mount Gambier to the Tantanoola Hotel where two more Millicent residents were picked up, as well as meeting the tour guide, Tantanoola farmer Peter Altschwager.

With the possibility of unconventional gas mines becoming a part of our landscape, it was an opportune time to revisit this renewable energy source, and discover the environmental benefits from the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

The Lake Bonney Wind Farm consists of 133 turbines (43 x 1.8mw, 23 x 2mw and 67 x 3mw) capable of producing a maximum output of 324 megawatts. This is enough energy to power 210,000 average houses. The same amount of electricity, if generated by fossil fuels, would produce 975,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Saving this amount of carbon dioxide is the same as taking 195,000 cars off the road!

The total height of the turbines is 106m to 124m, with the blade length from 39m to 44m, and the nacelles are 67m to 80m above the ground. The foundations are up to 3m deep and 20m in diameter, containing 45 tonne of steel and 360 cubic metres of concrete. The maximum tip speed of the blades is 315km/hr. and they shut down when the wind speed reaches 90km/hr.

Wind turbines produce no greenhouse gas emissions during their operation, and it takes just 6 months to produce the amount of energy that goes into its manufacture, operation, maintenance and decommissioning after its 20-25 year lifetime. During its lifetime a wind turbine delivers up to 80-100 times more energy than is used in its production, maintenance and scrapping.

Wind energy has the lowest lifecycle emissions of all energy production technologies, is not water intensive, does not pose a threat to the environment with hazardous spills and pollution, and is a sustainable energy source. The only down side to wind power is that sometimes there is no wind, making this type of power unsuitable for a stand alone, reliable, non-interrupted power source.

The tour was very informative and the turbines very impressive. The views from the top of the ridge were great, and if the weather had been a bit more pleasant, they would have been spectacular.

Peter Altschwager was a very knowledgeable and friendly guide and we appreciated him giving us his time.

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