Kooragang wind turbine future in spin

MINE WANTS TO DUMP SALT WATER IN HUNTER RIVER

NEWCASTLE’S iconic Kooragang Island wind turbine will be offered for sale, opening up the land for a future coal-loader.

The 73-metre-high turbine was installed in late 1997 as part of a push to promote the emerging green energy market.

It was the first commercial wind generation project in Australia to become accredited under the former national GreenPower project.

Although much larger and efficient turbines now exist, the Kooragang turbine has continued to produce green energy as coal export infrastructure has been built around it over the past decade.

It’s future has been in doubt since it was revealed two years ago that the turbine’s concrete footings overlapped plans for a future ship turning bay, or swing basin, in the area.

Ausgrid, formerly EnergyAustralia, is offloading the turbine as well as its Singleton solar farm and a solar power station in Sydney because they are no longer fit within its business structure.

‘‘Ausgrid runs a poles and wires electricity network now, so it is no longer appropriate that we continue to own and manage these facilities,’’ Ausgrid chief operating officer Trevor Armstrong said.

‘‘They were iconic examples of renewable energy sources at the time and helped support GreenPower retail products during the early days of the scheme.’’

The turbine generates about 900,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year, or enough to power 150 homes for a year.

It clocked up 10 million kilowatt hours in mid 2009. 

Energy Australia initially intended to install several of the  turbines along the riverbank to take advantage of the favourable wind patterns in the area.

The turbine is located on land owned by Newcastle Port Corporation.

Ausgrid’s lease on the site expires in August 2018.

A Port Corporation spokeswoman confirmed yesterday (Thurs May 30) that the land may be required for the future development of a swing basin. A development application has been approved for the site.

Ausgrid energy efficiency expert Paul Myors was part of the team that helped design, build and commission both the Singleton solar farm and the Kooragang turbine.

‘‘They were milestone projects in demonstrating how renewable energy generators could be commercialised and made more accessible for an average household,’’ he said.

More than 20 businesses and organisations have been invited to express interest in the three generators.

Ausgrid said it expected the solar generators could be used at other locations or potentially remain on site.

The Kooragang turbine would most likely need to be relocated to make way for future redevelopment of the site.

Expressions of interest will be sought from next week and are expected to be completed over the next three months.

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