Prior to construction, Neoen will conduct environmental studies and surveys to determine the most appropriate sites for wind turbines and solar panels. Once these locations have been determined, construction will commence on a rolling basis. Some land parcels will have construction commence shortly after the environmental studies have been completed, while construction on other land parcels may not commence for a number of months. Neoen will strive to construct the project as quickly as possible in order to avoid disrupting surrounding landowners.
The Crystal Brook Energy Park website will provide regular construction updates, and major traffic disruptions will be advertised in the local media.
The project will have a life cycle of approximately 30 years.
Neoen is holding a Community Open Day on 26 March 2018. More information can be found here.
The Crystal Brook Energy Park will provide additional generation of clean energy in South Australia, and will assist the South Australian Government in achieving its renewable energy production target of 50% by 2025. The incorporation of a storage element in the project will enhance the potential of the project to stabilise the local network and provide a reliable source of clean energy. The Project will also make the most of the resources available by including both wind turbines and solar panels.
The proposed development will have direct and flow-on financial benefits. A 2012 study by SKM on the economic benefits of wind farms in Australia found that, for every 50 MW in capacity, a wind farm delivered the following benefits:
- Direct employment of up to 48 construction workers, with each worker spending approximately $25,000 in the local area in shops, restaurants, hotels and other services (a total of up to $1.2 million).
- Direct employment of around five staff – a total annual input of $125,000 spent in the local economy.
- Indirect employment during the construction phase of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs and 795 nationwide jobs.
- Up to $250,000 per year for farmers in land rental income and $80,000 on community projects each year.
The project will also benefit agriculture in the region by providing diversified revenue to farmers and creating flow-on effects for the broader community.
The Crystal Brook Energy Park will include up to 130MW of lithium-ion battery storage. Including battery storage will help to ensure that the energy output of the Crystal Brook Energy Park parallels South Australia’s average daily energy load. There are a variety of lithium-ion battery storage options available and Neoen will leave this choice open until the very end of the project’s development stage.
The solar component of the Crystal Brook Energy Park will work very similarly to residential solar photovoltaic installations. The project’s solar panels will use solar irradiance to generate direct current, which will then be converted into alternative current with solar inverters, and be stepped up to 275kV to feed the national electricity grid.
What remains subject to final design studies is the type of mounting system that will be used for the project: in a context where new technological breakthroughs happen on a regular basis, Neoen will leave this choice open until the very end of the project’s development stage. Neoen is experienced in financing, constructing and operating several different types of systems including north-facing fixed tilt systems, east/west-facing fixed tilt systems and single-axis tracking systems.
Photos of Neoen solar plants with these technologies can be found in the library section of this website.
Several independent studies have concluded that depending on the technology and the project location, the energy payback of a solar panel is somewhere between 1 and 3.5 years, with newer technologies reaching the best results. It means that on average solar panels will produce more than 10 times as much energy as has been required for their fabrication and installation.
Solar photovoltaic panels are designed to reflect as little light as technically possible (generally around 2% of the light received) in order to maximize their efficiency. This is why solar photovoltaic farms are not considered reflective and have been installed on a number of airports around the world.
Wind turbines are designed to convert wind into mechanical energy. The mechanical energy is converted into electricity that can be sent directly to the grid. The power generated by the turbine is proportional to the wind speed cubed. As an example, a wind turbine in an 8m/s wind will produce about 8 times as much electricity as a wind turbine in a 4m/s wind.
The average capacity factor (ratio of actual energy produced to the hypothetical maximum possible) of wind farms in Australia range from 25% to 40% net, after all losses. Due to the excellent wind resource available, and the modern equipment to be installed, the wind turbines at Crystal Brook are expected to be in the upper end of this range. This compares with coal power stations that may operate up to 85% of full capacity and gas plants whose capacity factor can vary from as high as 85% to less than 10%.
There are nearly 200,000 wind turbines across sites all over the world – many of them close to people’s houses. Some 17 reviews of research literature conducted by leading health and research organisations from all over the world, including the World Health Organisation, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Centre, the UK Health Protection Agency and the US National Research Council, have concluded that there is no published evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.
Before it can operate, a wind farm has to demonstrate that noise levels at neighbouring residences will meet strict noise limits (35dB in rural areas, compared to background noises that generally range from 40 to 45dB).
These limits are designed to ensure that the noise from a wind farm is not intrusive for the average person.
Neoen will undertake environmental studies including fauna studies before obtaining development approval for the Crystal Brook Energy Park.
While wind farms are sometimes accused of threatening birds, an energy governance study done in Singapore has shown that wind farms actually kill 17 times less birds per gigawatt-hour of electricity produced than fossil fuel generation.
Studies show that wind farm are probably responsible for the death of 150,000 birds around the world every year, which is 400 times less than cars, 500 times less than pesticides, or 1200 times less than high-tension wires.