Wind farm to power 305,000 homes pegged for region
A massive wind farm that generates enough energy to power 305,000 homes could be under construction as early as next year.
Details of the Lotus Creek Wind Farm project have been detailed as the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment seeks public comment on the development.
The referral documents detail the wind farm would consist of 55 wind turbines, each with a production capacity of about seven megawatts, and would be built on a sprawling Nebo-Connors Range between St Lawrence in the east, and Lotus Creek in the west.
“The wind farm would assist the Queensland Government to achieve its target of 50 per cent renewable energy generation by 2030, contributing towards reduced greenhouse has emissions,” documents stated.
“Lotus Creek Wind Farm would generate around 1,700,000 megawatt hours per annum of renewable electricity per year, which is equivalent to supplying power to 305,000 homes.
“The project will supply electricity directly into the national electricity grid.”
The project would be established over three stages with construction expected in 2022 subject to approvals and commercial considerations.
Construction would be over 24 months and create between 250 to 350 jobs during peak build times.
The operational life of the farm was 30 years with the project’s third stage to include its decommissioning, and affected land rehabilitated.
“The site boundary encompasses three leasehold lots within the Isaac Regional Council local government area,” documents state.
“The area within the site boundary is 48,393 hectares.
“The project area refers to a 200m wide buffer on the development footprint within which wind turbines, over and underground powerlines, access tracks and other associated infrastructure may be located.
“The size of the project area is 3044.9ha.
“The development footprint has been proposed as the maximum possible impact area, in order to accommodate future modifications to layout at the detailed design stage.
“This precautionary approach means that the footprint proposed is slightly greater than the actual footprint with final positioning to be confirmed at detailed design stage.
“The size of the development footprint is 391.3ha.”
The earmarked site’s boundaries do not fall within any world or national heritage areas, and there were no “wetlands of international importance” within 10km.
While the development was not likely to impact Commonwealth land, the documents stated “five listed threatened ecological communities, 31 threatened species and 16 migratory species (were) within 10km of the proposal site”.
“Given the nature and scale of the proposal, a potential significant impact to some Commonwealth listed threatened entities is considered likely,” the documents stated.
An onsite survey of the proposed development block found 101 koalas were either heard or seen, seven of which were females with young on their back “suggesting the population is self-sustaining”.
There was an estimated 48,502ha of suitable koala habitat within the site boundary with the project expected to impact about 345.5ha.
The risk of traffic flows on koalas would be mitigated by enforced speed limits and by restricting access to the area to farmers and wind farm staff.
“”The project’s impacts will result in a maximum impact to 345.5ha of suitable habitat for koala,” documents state.
“This is considered to be a reduction in the extent of habitat at a local and regional scale and is likely to constitute a significant impact.
The clearing of koala habitat cannot be fully avoided and accordingly, an offset will be provided to compensate for the loss of this habitat.”
Greater glider were recorded at 131 locations, the majority of which were on the eastern side of the range and “largely outside of the new project area”.
Squatter pigeons were also detected inside the site boundaries as well as white-throated needletail but the project was not expected to have a significant impact on the species’ populations.
Lotus Creek Wind Farm Pty Ltd’s parent company is Epuron, a leading Australian renewable energy company with a focus on the development of utility scale wind and solar projects across Australia.