Frequently asked questions
These questions will continue to be updated as the project progresses and as stakeholders and community members submit feedback.
About the project
Exactly how many turbines are you planning to build?
The project has been designed to include up to 33 wind turbines.
Earlier designs included up to 53 wind turbine sites, but this number was reduced following numerous technical assessments and community feedback.
Why are the wind turbines proposed to be up to 250 m tall?
Wind turbine technology continues to evolve with the primary aim of producing more electricity at lower long-term cost. Larger generators requiring longer blades to capture more kinetic energy in the wind are part of this technology development. The longer blades are required to be installed higher above the ground to achieve adequate ground clearance and avoid terrain and vegetation induced turbulence.
Do wind turbines emit more noise the larger they are?
One of the primary sources of noise from wind turbines is turbulence over the trailing edge of the tip of the blade. Larger turbines rotate more slowly than many of the smaller models installed over the past decade meaning the tip speed is no faster and noise output no greater than for smaller turbines.
Why is OSMI building a wind farm in this area?
OSMI identified the Latrobe Valley as a good location for renewable energy development due to the existing transmission infrastructure that supports the coal and other thermal generation plants in the area, which are expected to close over the next 10-20 years. Advances in wind turbine technology allows sites not previously considered economically viable due to marginal wind resources to now be developed.
OSMI targeted sites with:
- adequate land for an economically scaled project;
- adequate set back from existing dwellings (at least 1 km as required by Victorian planning guidelines);
- rising topography to access the wind resource;
- existing grid infrastructure on or near the development site that has adequate capacity for new generation; and
- complementary planning overlays for wind farm developments.
Are wind farms in forests common?
Forest based wind farms are increasingly being deployed across Europe. Due to limited land availability and high population density in Germany, there has been a relatively recent move to open the forests for wind farm development. Forest based wind farms have also been widely deployed within Sweden.
The DWF will be the one of the first plantation-based wind farms in Australia. A 226 turbine, 1,200 MW plantation-based wind farm has recently been approved in the Wide Bay area of Queensland. There is also a large pine plantation-based wind farm proposed as part of the Kentbruck Green Power Hub in Victoria’s south-west, and a second one is also under development within Victoria in the Macedon Ranges south of Woodend.
Are any of the proposed turbines on sensitive native forest coups that the community is trying to protect?
None of the turbines are proposed to be in areas of native forest. OSMI is aware of the work of local community groups to protect native forest coups and these sensitive sites have been avoided in the DWF design. As part of the development process OSMI is required to complete detailed flora and fauna studies and will publish these studies. Ecological sensitivities and community concerns will be taken into consideration in the finalisation of the design.
How much energy do you estimate DWF will generate and how will this go back into the grid?
The project is expected to produce approximately 590,000 MWh from 33 turbines. This is enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of around 125,000 average Victorian homes annually. This equates to an annual saving of 590,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The wind farm will be connected to the national electricity grid via a connection into an existing transmission line that runs through the north of the site.
What is the energy payback for a wind turbine?
Several life cycle assessments (LCA) – which calculate the energy required to manufacture, install, operate and decommission a turbine as compared to the energy generated over its life – have been completed for modern wind turbines. The LCAs conclude that the energy payback period for a wind turbine is typically about 6 months of operation.
- Dispelling myth of energy payback of renewable energy (Renew Economy – Dec 2013)
- Carbon and Energy payback of a wind turbine (Sask Wind – Jan 2016)
- Meta-analysis of net energy return for wind power systems (ScienceDirect – Jan 2010)
- Comparative life cycle assessment of 2.0 MW wind turbines (Our Energy Policy – 2014)
- Wind turbine payback: Environmental lifecycle assessment of 2-megawatt wind turbines (Science Daily – Jun 2014)
What is the status of the project?
DWF is in the project development phase and is currently undertaking the following activities:
- Wind resource monitoring
- Community engagement
- Four planning permit applications have been submitted for assessment by the Minister for Planning and preparation for the panel hearing is underway
Is the project commercially viable?
Preliminary financial modelling indicates that the project is commercially viable and is not reliant on government subsidies to achieve this.
Who is the Responsible Authority for this project?
The Minister for Planning is the Responsible Authority for determining if a planning permit will be issued for the project.
What is the timeline for the project?
Construction is planned to begin in 2022 and it is expected that the wind farm would take approximately 2 years to be completed.
The project is dependent on many technical, regulatory, and economic processes, the timing of which are outside of OSMI’s control.
OSMI submitted a planning application on 23 December 2020 and anticipate public hearings will be held in the first half of 2021.
How many landholders are involved in the project?
The project will be hosted on a single land holding owned by HVP. The development would be located within HVP plantation boundaries.
Will you look to build a solar farm or battery storage facility with the wind farm?
OSMI is investigating the feasibility of including a battery bank near the wind farm connection point with the grid. The project does not include a solar farm.
Community and local investment
What will the community benefit be for the community?
OSMI has developed a community benefits scheme which includes a Community Development Fund, Neighbour Profit Sharing and Community Co-investment into the wind farm. It is proposed that the community benefits package be overseen by a committee drawn from the community surrounding the project.
How much investment will there be in the local area?
During the construction and operations phases of the project, the project is expected to:
- Deliver $500,000 per annum directly to the neighbours of the project through Neighbour Profit Sharing arrangements for dwelling owners within 2 km of the project. This arrangement could be extended to dwelling owners within 3km of the project if that is the community’s preference, however the total quantum of the fund is fixed. It is expected this would be delivered via a community trust structure. The details of the design and delivery calculation will be defined in consultation with a benefits sharing committee with membership drawn from the community.
- Contribute $403,000 per annum in rates-in-lieu payments to local councils, significantly contributing to essential services in the local community.
- Contribute $750 per MW installed (approximately $150,000) per annum to a Community Development Fund once construction commences.
These benefits will also be supplemented by local procurement, jobs and spending within the region by the project and the contractors supporting DWF.
What is community co-investment?
Community co-investment allows the community to benefit by sharing a portion of the earnings from the project. A community investment vehicle is used to buy rights to a portion of the earnings of the project but has no decision-making power or control over the operation of the asset. The community investment vehicle could be a company, cooperative, association or trust. In this arrangement, the community has no formal ownership or responsibility over the project. The investment model would be linked to performance of the DWF as a whole (rather than an individual turbine or turbines). OSMI intends to partner with local community energy groups to deliver mutual benefits. A ‘Community Investment Testing Phase’ was conducted over 2019-2020 with the community expressing interest in investing close to $1 million in the project.
How many jobs is the project estimated to create?
The Economic Impact Assessment of Delburn Wind Farm has identified that 186 FTE direct and indirect jobs would be created during the two-year construction period and approximately 24 direct and indirect new, on-going jobs during the 30-year operating life of the project.
What other benefits for the community are there?
The project has a potential to deliver significant social, financial and environmental benefits including:
- Repair and upgrades local to roads.
- Local Business Participation Program which provides opportunities for local businesses to participate in the project.
- Sponsorships on a case-by-case basis.
Do wind farms impact property values of neighbouring properties?
The independent evidence is that the value of properties around wind farms are not adversely affected. The most independent source available can be found at the following link:
While this report is prepared by the NSW government, the findings are consistent with our experience in developing and operating other wind farm projects within Victoria.
How do people object to the project?
All local stakeholders will have the opportunity to lodge a submission (in support or objection) to the Minister for Planning once the planning application has been placed on public consultation.
OSMI will continue to work with the community to understand and address their issues and propose possible solutions.
How do I make a complaint about the wind farm?
What information will you be sharing with the local community?
OSMI will maintain open and transparent communication around the DWF project. This includes:
- Contact information and how to meet with or communicate with the project team
- Progress updates
- Details of all technical studies
- Traffic routes and timing
- Over Dimensional load delivery timing
- How to make a complaint
- Construction impacts – traffic routes and timing, dust and noise impacts
Predicted operational impacts including noise and visual impacts.
What consultation has taken place with the traditional owners of the land?
Traditional owners are being consulted throughout the planning process and this will continue through the construction phase of the project. A cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) is being developed in consultation with the Gunaikurnai, the traditional owners of the project.
How will the community know what the visual impact of the project will be?
In order to show the community, the visual impact of the wind farm from their local area, OSMI has developed photomontages from a range of public locations around the project.
The towns of Moe, Morwell and Yinnar as well as the smaller communities of Boolarra, Coalville, Darlimurla, Delburn, Driffield, Narracan, and Thorpdale will be able to see parts of the wind farm from some vantage points.
OSMI has iPad-based software that can allow a visualisation of the project to be created when visiting any residences surrounding the project. This can be provided by local project staff upon request.
Health and noise
Do you foresee any health issues with the DWF?
There is no consistent or reliable evidence, or medical research, to suggest that wind farms negatively impact on people’s health.
The National Health and Medical Research Council issued a statement on 11th Feb 2015 after looking at over 4000 papers that, “there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans” (view the full statement).
The technical and environmental assessments for the project will allow it to be designed to ensure that noise and shadow flicker associated with the placement of turbines are well within the regulatory limits at all dwellings surrounding the project.
One of the major concerns people have is about the health effects of living and working close to wind farms. What is your view about this?
Further research is underway and this can only improve knowledge of the issue. OSMI is designing a the wind farm that will comply with the current legislative and regulatory frameworks that are in place for wind farms in Victoria.
What about the call for more funding to research health impacts?
The national Health Medical Research Council issued a revised statement on the 11th Feb 2015 that after looking at over 4000 papers that “there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans”.
Any proposed future research can only improve knowledge of the issue but is not expected to affect the progress of DWF. We intend to progress the wind farm in accordance with the legislative and regulatory frameworks that are in place for wind farms in Victoria.
Do wind turbines emit infrasound?
Wind turbines do emit infrasound, as do all moving objects. The levels of infrasound emitted by wind turbines is below the threshold of human perception. Below are some links to scientific articles relating to infrasound emissions from large wind turbines:
- Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines (Henrik Møller and Christian Sejer Pedersen – Jul 2010)
- Effects of Wind Farm Noise (Marshall Day Acoustics – Aug 2019)
- Infrasound measurements from wind farms and other sources (Pacific Hydro – Dec 2010)
- Infrasound levels near windfarms and in other environments (EPA South Australia – Jan 2013)
Ecology and fire
Do wind farms kill birds?
Wind farms with proper design considerations have minimal impact on birds.
Surveys and publicly accessible information assessed to-date have not identified any significant or threatened avifauna (bird and bat) species around the Delburn wind farm site or any species that migrate across the project area.
The size of the proposed wind turbines means that the majority of birds fly below the swept path of the blades, reducing the collision risk. Prior to the commencement of construction, a Bird and Bat Management Plan will need to be prepared to manage any incidental impacts on avifauna.
Recent peer reviewed studies suggest that birds are very capable when it comes to avoiding wind turbines:
I understand that wind turbines can catch fire - will the wind farm increase bushfire risk?
Fire risk is taken very seriously in the design and operational plans for the Delburn wind farm and a stringent risk management approach will be taken to dealing with the risk of fire on all plant and equipment which includes the wind turbines and transformers. Modern wind turbines include new features designed to minimise fire risk within the wind turbine itself.
OSMI is committed to ensuring that fire risks are properly considered in technology procurement decisions. The processes/systems to manage fire risk include
- All transformers will have bunding to contain any oil spills, the tank of the transformer that contains the oil will be fully sealed and regular oil sampling will be employed to monitor the condition of the transformers during the life of the wind farm.
- All wind turbines will be fitted with lightning protection, heat and/or smoke detection systems (for early notification of fire), dedicated monitoring systems within each wind turbine that detect temperature increases in the turbines (to either place turbine in a “safe state” or shut them down when the threshold temperature is reached), and a cut off system to prevent overheating when the temperature inside the nacelle is too high.
- Unless the risk to human life is deemed to be unacceptable or the product not be available on the market, the wind turbines will be specified to use non-combustible hydraulic and lubricant oils, and will contain nacelle fire suppression systems to contain any fire that may start.
- A fuel reduced area (free of flammable material) will be maintained around the perimeter of all above ground electrical facilities
Prior to commencement of construction activities, OSMI will consult with CFA and the other relevant emergency authorities to prepare a Bush Fire Mitigation and Emergency Management Plan for the construction and operation phases of the wind farm.
The increase in cleared areas provided by access roads, underground cable routes and the wind turbines themselves, allows the project ‘footprint’ to improve access for first responders and the number, location and size of fire breaks within the plantation area in the event of a fire starting within the plantation.
Will aerial fire fighting still be possible with wind turbines in the area?
Wind turbines do not prevent aerial firefighting. In all aerial firefighting operations, it is the pilot’s responsibility to maintain separation from existing vertical hazards (i.e. communications tower, masts) and operate under visual flight rules. Each aircraft and pilot have varying levels of capability and experience, and other external factors such as weather conditions also will contribute to the separation that needs to be maintained from wind turbines.
The Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) have released a position paper (25 Oct 2018) in relation to wind farms and bushfire operations that will be used to guide the development of the Bush Fire Response Plan for the project:
Can I build a new house close to the proposed wind farm?
Any application under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 will be determined by the Responsible Authority, in this case either the Latrobe City Council, Baw Baw Shire Council or South Gippsland Shire Council. The Council will consider an application against the relevant Planning Scheme, including zone, overlay and any other relevant provisions. If anyone has questions about the wind farm may relate to an application to build a new house on their property, OSMI is happy to discuss site specific details with them.
How many plantation trees will be removed for the turbines? Will any native trees be removed?
The project is expected to impact approximately 3 hectares of plantation for each wind turbine constructed. This impact covers the area required for access roads to deliver wind turbine components, the installation crane pad, wind turbine foundation at each tower location and underground cables to connect the turbines to the electricity grid.
Some native vegetation will be required to be removed as part of the widening of existing forestry tracks and intersections and for the underground cable routes, where alternatives don’t exist, but no turbines will be located in areas of native vegetation. OSMI is designing the project to minimise the impact on the patches of native vegetation in and around the plantation.
Construction and operation
Will the construction process disturb the traffic?
There will be some disruptions during construction and major deliveries. The project has been designed to minimise the use of existing public roads wherever possible to reduce the impact of project traffic on local residents. Some road upgrades are required to ensure publics roads are of adequate width, bearing capacity and slope to allow them to be used for large component delivery. Upgrades will be required at intersections to allow safe turning movements of construction traffic and to allow the movement of over dimensions loads (in particular, the wind turbine blades).
A Traffic Management Plan will be prepared in consultation with three local Councils and VicRoads which will outline routes were additional traffic will be associated with the wind farm.
Where will water come from for construction?
Water supplies will be investigated during the detailed planning phase. Water is required for on-site concrete batching and dust suppression during the construction phase.
What happens at the end of the lifetime of the project?
Planning permits for wind farm typically contain decommissioning requirements such:
- Removal of all above ground operational equipment
- Clean up of spills
- Rehabilitation of areas affected by closure/decommissioning unless useful to landowner operations (e.g. tracks)
- A traffic management plan
- A vegetation rehabilitation plan
OSMI’s agreement with the landowner requires the provision of a bond at least 5 years prior to the end of the site lease that covers the estimated costs to decommission the project.
Is lighting of the turbines required?
An Aviation Risk Assessment completed in consultation with the relevant aviation regulatory bodies has concluded that aviation lighting is not required for the project.
Are there any other anticipated impacts that may occur from the wind farm?
All potential environmental, noise and construction impacts will be assessed during the planning phase of the project. The Policy and Planning Guidelines for the Development of Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria (Nov 2017) provide guidance on the impacts that must be assessed and mitigated through the construction and operations phases of wind farm projects. OSMI will be responsive and attentive to issues that arise during project construction and operations and maintain a two-way communication around the issues and potential mitigation measures. All contractors will be given comprehensive inductions to minimise and manage local amenity impacts during the construction phase.
Will the project disrupt TV signals?
A background survey of existing TV signals will be conducted at nearby residence prior to construction. If a resident reports any signal disruption after the turbines are installed, we will be able to determine if the project caused the disruption and if so implement a resolution. Possible solutions measures may include the installation of improved antennas or satellite dishes.
Will the turbines cause problems for aircraft?
An Aviation Risk Assessment found that the project does not pose an unacceptable risk to aviation. OSMI has in place operating protocols with the landowner for the temporary shutdown of wind turbines (parked in the “Y” position and yawed parallel with the proposed flight paths) for instances of planned aerial spraying of the plantation or aerial firefighting activities. The CFA recommends that wind turbines are spaced at least 300m apart to allow for the safe passage of aircraft between turbines. This requirement is easily met with the DWF design which has a minimum turbine spacing of 640m.
What are the company’s future plans in Australia?
OSMI will investigate the feasibility of other forestry based wind farms.
Will OSMI keep ownership of the project?
Cubico Sustainable Investments, a leader and global investor in renewable energy, has joined OSMI Australia as joint development partner in the Delburn Wind Farm and will purchase 100% of the project prior to the commencement of construction.
OSMI will provide ongoing services (covering matters such as community engagement, development approvals compliance) through the construction period and early operations given our knowledge of the project and established relationships with the key project stakeholders.