We provide some answers to frequently asked questions
Will the project receive any Federal or State government subsidies?
The Banana Range Wind Farm will not receive any subsidies. Large scale renewable energy projects are now required to compete head-to-head with other power stations in the electricity market on an equal basis. The cost of energy from the Banana Range Wind Farm will therefore need to be competitive in the electricity wholesale markets for the project to proceed.
How competitive is the cost of wind power?
The cost of wind power has fallen significantly over the past decade. Large scale wind farms are now one of the cheapest sources of electricity in Australia.
Large electricity users are now signing direct contracts with Wind Farms to lower their electricity bills. For example, last year the Murra Warra Wind Farm in Victoria signed a contract with: Telstra, ANZ, Coca-Cola Amatil and the University of Melbourne for the entire wind farm output.
Do wind farms cause property values to decrease?
Studies into the potential impact of wind farm developments on property prices have been undertaken both in Australia and overseas. All of these studies, including those in Australia by the NSW Valuer-General (2009) and Urbis (2016), have concluded that there is no correlation between wind farms and long-term property prices. Urbis study can be found here.
Do wind turbines affect animals?
No. The vast majority of wind farms that are built both in Australia and overseas are on rural land where farm animals such as cattle, sheep, and horses happily graze around the turbines all day. In hot summer months it is quite common for animals to seek shade in the long shadows created by the turbine towers.
In the USA the state of Texas has about 5 times the amount of wind power as the whole of Australia with nearly 25,000 MW installed. The wind turbines in Texas happily co-exist with a cattle herd of about 94 million in the state.
Do wind turbines kill birds?
Whilst birds can die from collisions with wind turbine blades it is a myth that wind turbines kill birds in significant numbers. The largest causes of bird deaths are feral and domestic cats and collisions with powerlines and buildings.
A detailed study in the North America concluded that wind turbines were responsible for 1 in every 14,000 bird deaths.
For this project Lacour Energy has engaged environmental specialists who undertook surveys of the land in different seasons to assess the potential impact on wildlife including birds and bats. The conclusion from this work was that there would not be a significant residual impact to any of the fauna on the land.
Will noise affect local residents?
Wind turbines in Australia must comply with strict planning and operation guidelines in relation to their permissible noise levels. The noise regulations in Queensland are that:
- The outdoor night-time acoustic level will not exceed 35dB(A) or the background noise by more than 5dB(A); and
- The outdoor day-time acoustic level will not exceed 37dB(A) or the background noise by more than 5dB(A); and
- No wind turbine can be built within 1.5 km of a house without the permission of the owner of the house.
As a reference point the Federal Government agency, Safework Australia, equates 30dB(A) as whispering level noise, 40 dB(A) as quiet radio music and 60dB(A) as normal conversation.
The nearest house to the Banana Range Wind Farm turbines will be about 2.5km away, which is 1km further than required by the Queensland State Code. Due to the large distance between the turbines and the houses, the wind farm will not cause noise levels to breach noise regulations at the nearest house at 2.5km or any others that are further away.
The noise levels surrounding a wind farm project must be measured before construction to assess "baseline" noise levels and then measured again once a wind farm is built. The noise studies need to be prepared by independent experts and then submitted to Queensland Government regulators to ensure compliance with the state code.
Are there any health risks associated with wind farms?
There are over 200,000 wind turbines in operation at wind farms all over the world. In the USA alone over 20 million people live in the same county as a wind farm project. In Australia, at the end of 2018 there were 94 operating wind farms in Australia comprising about 2,500 wind turbines.
Since 2003 there have been 25 scientific reviews into the safety of wind farms by leading health and research organisations from all over the world, including by the World Health Organisation, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Centre, the UK Health Protection Agency and the US National Research Council.
All of these studies have concluded that there is no published evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects.
In Australia, Simon Chapman: emeritus professor in public health from University of Sydney, and Fiona Crichton from the University of Auckland have undertaken a study into claims on wind turbines affecting health. It is a well researched book that reaffirms there is no published evidence to positively link wind turbines with adverse health effects. The book is available to download from the University of Sydney via this link.
What is shadow flicker?
Shadow flicker may occur when the sun passes behind rotating blades of a wind turbine and casts a moving shadow over an area and falls through the window of a house. The moving shadows cause periodic flickering of the light from the sun, giving rise to the phenomenon of ‘shadow flicker’. The potential for shadow flicker from a wind turbine is determined by a number of factors including: house distance from the wind turbine, the position of the sun in the sky, the size of the wind turbine and the weather conditions. The potential impact of shadow flicker can be seen for up to 265 times the width of a blade (which is around 5m), this works out to be about 1325m from the turbine. As the nearest residence to the wind farm is over 2500m away there will not be any shadow flicker impact at any properties in the region.
How many jobs will the project create?
The project is anticipated to generate 100 - 150 jobs during the 2 year construction period and 10 - 15 full-time positions during the 25 year operational life.
Lacour's aim is to maximise the amount of local labour on the project and we have already had a number of local businesses and individuals register their interest at our project webpage: www.bananarangewindfarm.com.au .
The project will require a range of capabilities including in engineering, trades (electrical, mechanical, construction), transport, building material providers (concrete and steel fixing), heavy vehicle operators, accommodation, administration, and specialist consultants (e.g. environmental).
How much money will be spent in the local economy?
The total project cost is expected to be $250 - $350 million. It is estimated that $30 - $40 million will be spent in the local and regional community during the construction period through the employment of local contractors and local service providers.
How will the Community Fund operate?
Lacour Energy will provide $100,000 per year for projects or initiatives within the local region.
A committee comprising volunteer representatives from the local community and a representative of the project will be established and will decide what the money will be spent on.
Example projects could include: community building improvements, tourist facilities, rural fire service upgrades, support for local school initiatives or telecommunication infrastructure.
What will be the life cycle of the wind farm?
It is anticipated that the wind farm will operate for around 25 years. After this operating life Lacour may replace some of the equipment and extend the project for a further period, or possibly erect new wind turbines on the project site. At the end of the project life Lacour will be responsible for removing all infrastructure and rehabilitating the project site.
Is wind energy efficient?
Wind turbines are very efficient at converting wind energy to electrical energy. Wind turbine technology has improved significantly over the past 20 years and has allowed the technology to become one of the lowest cost forms of electricity. The wind data for the Banana Range project site shows that wind turbines would be producing electricity nearly 90% of the time, i.e. 10% of the time there would not be enough wind to turn the turbines but the rest of the time they would be producing electricity.
How much energy do wind turbines produce compared to the energy needed to make them?
It is a myth that building a wind farm takes more energy than it ever generates. International studies have shown that a wind turbine will typically generate all of the energy used in the manufacturing the turbine and installing it at a wind farm site within 5 - 6 months.
This period of time is known as the 'energy pay-back period'.A wind turbine that operates for 25 years will therefore generate approximately 50 times the energy used in the manufacturing and installation.
How do I find out more about the project can I stay up to date with information on the project?
The best way to stay up to date on the project is to register on the website, and we will let you know about upcoming events or provide updates via our regular project newsletters. We are currently holding information sessions about the project throughout the feasibility phase, where anyone can come and meet the Lacour team and ask questions. These sessions are advertised on the website, on local Facebook pages and other locations including in the Central Telegraph newspaper. The first event was held in Biloela on the 9th July 2019 and the next events will be in Biloela and Banana in September. We have considering posting information out about our events to the wider community but prefer not to be sending out unsolicited mail. We think the website, newsletters and information session can inform more people over a wider area about the project.
How are any impacts and benefits of the project assessed?
At a State level, the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP), requires detailed information on all aspects of the project to be provided in any submission for planning approval. The State Government then assesses the project information, using independent experts, against the relevant legislation – State Code 23 for Wind Farm development. If an approval is granted for a project then the State Government will attach approval conditions which the project must comply with..
At a Federal level, the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy (DoEE) requires information on project required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
An application for the Banana Range Wind Farm has been lodged to DSDMIP for the State approval which contains information on the project as required by State Code 23. A referral has also been lodged to DoEE which contains information on project required under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
How close can wind turbines be to houses?
The Queensland State Code for Wind Farm development requires all wind turbines are at least 1.5km away from houses to be a code assessable project. Wind turbines can be located closer to houses than this but only with the householder’s permission. All wind turbines at Banana Range Wind Farm are greater than 1.5km as required under State Code 23, with the nearest house over 2.5km to the nearest wind turbine.