Wimmera electricity grid can handle future power generation capacity: Renewable Energy Systems

Premier Daniel Andrews at the site of the Ararat Wind Farm. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Premier Daniel Andrews at the site of the Ararat Wind Farm. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

WIND farm operator Renewable Energy Systems believes the Wimmera’s electricity grid can handle the full future capacity from both Ararat and Kiata wind farms without issue.

The Australian Energy Market Operator Victorian annual planning report stated earlier this year that adding 240 megawatts of generation to the Wimmera’s grid would push the system to its limit.

The market operator’s annual planning report stated that the connection of Ararat Wind Farm would place the Ballarat–Horsham 220 kilovolt transmission line at its thermal capacity under peak wind conditions.

‘Thermal capacity’ refers to how much heat a power line can absorb from electricity transmission before it starts to lose its tensile strength and sag towards the ground.

RES is part-owner of the $450-million, 75-turbine Ararat Wind Farm, which is due for completion next year.

RES grid commercial and strategy manager Martin Hemphill said the market operator report was based on worst-case scenarios and the Wimmera’s grid had been upgraded since the report came out.

“The network is dynamic and it changes very often. The capacity of the line that the market operator has based their report on, even that’s changed,” he said.

“There can be quite a lot of different factors that can change the capacity on that network and we have spent a lot of time making sure that the capacity is not going to hold us back.”

Mr Hemphill said RES had planned a wind farm at Murra Warra that would use same grid, so it would be against the company’s interests to have an overloaded system.

Mr Hemphill said the Wimmera’s grid could handle a combined 270 megawatts from both Ararat and Kiata. There has been a nation-wide debate over electricity security and wind farms since a storm last month knocked out power across South Australia.

Member for Mallee Andrew Broad said the Wimmera should look at how much renewable energy the region could support.

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