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Approval Given for Australia's Biggest Wind Farm

  • Phil Mercer

The government has approved plans for Australia's biggest wind farm to be built near the outback town of Broken Hill in New South Wales. Almost 600 turbines will generate enough electricity for more than 400,000 homes.

A forest of giant turbines will emerge from the red dust of the Australian outback near Broken Hill, an isolated town famous for its lead and zinc mining.

The $1.7 billion project is one of the largest on-shore wind farms in the world. It eventually will cover more than 32,000 hectares. Planning permission has been granted for the first phase of development.

That phase will see the construction of 282 turbines. Preliminary approval also has been given for the installation of a further 300.

Development of the site near Broken Hill, which lies 500 kilometers southwest of Adelaide, must adhere to noise guidelines and limit the impact to the environmental.

Donna Bolton, the project manager for the Silverton Wind Farm, says its operational capacity in excess of 1,000 megawatts will make a significant contribution to the energy requirements of Australia's most populous state.

"It is a monster wind farm. It is fabulous in scale," she said. "The entire thing will provide enough electricity for 4.5 percent of New South Wales' electrical needs and it is about 430,000 homes for the entire project. Wind power for Australia is fantastic because it is going to be out of the cities, it is going to be where the jobs are needed, it is good for the environment, it is good for the local economies. It is a really significant part of the answer."

The New South Wales government has big plans for this type of renewable power. State Premier Nathan Rees has said that a series of wind farms across the state would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by six million tons a year.

Australia's emissions of greenhouse gases make it on a per capita basis one world's worst polluters, thanks to its reliance on cheap and abundant supplies of coal. Greenhouse gases, many of which come from burning coal and oil, are thought to contribute to global warming.

The federal government intends to ease the dependence on fossil fuels and wants to have 20 percent of Australia's electricity coming from renewable energy by 2020.

Solar and geothermal technologies are also being developed.

Some residents have opposed the construction of some wind farms in Australia, complaining that turbines produce a low-frequency drone, while others object to what they have described as "visual pollution."