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 initial wind farm concept was proposed for up to 53 wind turbine sites.
This layout has been revised to 35 turbines on the basis on further technical inputs and community feedback.
The design process is iterative and may change further as investigations and community consultations proceed.
Why are the wind turbines proposed to be up to 250 m tall?
Wind turbine technology has continued to evolve with the primary aim of producing more electricity at lower long-term cost. This results from increasing the swept area of the blades to increase the capture of kinetic energy in the wind, and also increasing the size of the generator in each wind turbine unit. The longer blades are required to be installed higher above the ground to achieve more laminar air flow across the whole rotor and maintain adequate ground clearance to avoid terrain and vegetation induced turbulence.
While the wind turbines are physically larger, the rotor speed is slowed to reduce noise emissions (predominately created by flow turbulence off the trailing edge of the blade tip), with rotational speed ranges of typically 5-9 rpm for blades lengths around 80m.
Do wind turbines emit more noise the larger they are?
One aspect of the larger rotor and larger capacity wind turbines is that the rotational speed is reduced compared to many of the models currently installed over the past decade with the primary objective of managing the noise emission profile. One of the primary noise emission sources of a wind turbine is turbulence over the trailing edge of the blade near the tip – so reducing the rotational speed of the rotor with larger blades is important to manage the tip speed. Various large scale turbines have been assessed across OSMI’s wind farm sites and the noise emission profile of the larger rotor (155 – 170 meters) and capacity wind turbines is comparable with smaller rotor (80 – 100 meters) wind turbines.
Why is OSMI building a wind farm in this area?
Why is OSMI building a wind farm in this area?
OSMI identified the Latrobe Valley region as a great opportunity for renewable energy developments due to the existing transmission infrastructure supporting the coal and other thermal generation plants in the area, which are expected to close over the coming 10-20 years. the technological advances in wind turbines has allowed site not previously economical due to lack of adequate wind resource to now be developed.
OMSI targeted sites with:
- adequate land for an economically scaled project;
- adequate set back from existing dwellings (at least 1 km per the 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?
Within the Australian context, the DWF will be the one of the first plantation based wind farm in Australia. OSMI is aware of a large pine forest sited wind farm as part of the proposed Kentbruck Green Power Hub and a second one is also under development within Victoria in the Macedon Ranges south of Woodend.
Forest based wind farms are growing in deployment across Europe. Due to the limits in available land space in Germany and the high population, there has been a relatively recent move to open up the forests for wind farm development. The forests that have low diversity and 18,000 hectares have now been set aside for wind farm development. Forest based wind farms have also been widely deployed within Sweden.
Are any of the proposed turbines on sensitive native forest coups that the community is trying to protect?
Are any of the proposed turbines on sensitive native forest coups that the community is trying to protect?
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. Now that the wind farm is in development the priority is to undertake a high quality flora and fauna study with a well renowned expert and make it publically available on the website. Ecological sensitivities and community concerns will be taken into account.
How much energy do you estimate DWF will generate and how will this go back into the grid?
The project is expected to produce up to approximately 620,000 MWh of electricity annually.
This is enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of up to 125,000 average Victorian homes annually. Based on the average Victorian household electricity consumption of 4.9MWh (Australian Energy Regulator report 2015).
This equates to savings of 620,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum.
What is the energy payback for a wind turbine?
Several life cycle analyses (LCA) – which calculates the energy required to manufacture, install, operate and decommission as compared to the energy generated over its life – have been undertaken for modern wind turbines. The LCAs conclude that the energy payback for a wind turbine is typically within about 6 months of operation.
What is the status of the project?
DWF is in the early stages of development and is currently undertaking the following activities:
- Environmental referrals under the Environmental Effects Act (Vic) and EPBC Act (Cmth)
- Wind resource monitoring
- Community engagement
- Refinement of project design
- Technical assessment to support a planning application
Is the project commercially viable?
Yes, preliminary financial modelling suggest that the project is commercially viable.
Who is the Responsible Authority for this project?
The Minister for Planning is the responsible authority for any planning permit decisions relating to the project..
What is the timeline for the project?
- The success of the project is dependent on many technical, regulatory and economic processes, some of which are out of OSMI’s direct control in terms of timing.
- OSMI is working to progress the development such that a planning application is lodged by Q1 2020.
- Construction is estimated to begin in 2021-22. It is expected that the project construction would take up to 2 years to be completed.
How many landholders are involved in the project?
The project infrastructure is proposed to be hosted on a single land holding held in freehold title. HVP holds the freehold title and the development would be located within the plantation boundaries.
Will you look to build a solar farm or battery storage facility with the wind farm?
OSMI is investigating the feasibility of a solar array and/or a battery bank near the wind farm connection point with the grid.
Community and local investment
What will the community benefit be for the community?
OSMI is engaging very early (pre-planning permit) with the local community to ensure the project is well supported and designed appropriately and that the benefit sharing is tailored for the local context. A local community engagement officer will be hired early to enable community participation to help shape the options. OSMI is currently interested in a community fund, neighbouhood benefits and community investment into the wind farm, but wants to ensure it is a match for the local area.
How much investment will there be in the local area?
During the construction and operations phases of the project, the initial proposal of 53 turbines was expected to:
- deliver ~$700,000 per annum directly to the 2km neighbour area through profit-sharing arrangements;
- contribute up to $530,000 per annum in rates-in-lieu payments to local councils, significantly contributing to essential services in the local community; and
- contribute up to $180,000 per annum to a community benefit fund ($3,360 per wind turbine or $600 per MW installed).
These figures will be scaled down as the number of turbines reduces. 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 is when a community investment vehicle buys rights to a portion of the earnings of the renewable energy 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’ is now open (including public survey available on website) and to be finalised and reported on by planning permit submission. The survey enables the public to express an interest in the community investment, pledge their potential investment amount and to give feedback on the terms and structure. We encourage you to fill in the survey here (link).
How many jobs is the project estimated to create?
From the Preliminary Economic Impact Assessment of Delburn Wind Farm, performed by Jacobs (2019), the number of direct jobs predicted to be created during the construction phase for 53 turbines was 209, along with 18 longer-term positions created during the operational phase.
Many more indirect jobs (up to 520) will be created from the increased economic activity in the area.
These figures will be updated as the project evolves.
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 will be launched closer to project construction to provide 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 property values for 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 a government in another state than Victoria, the findings are consistent with our experience in developing and operating other wind farm projects.
How do people object to the project?
OSMI aims to continue to work with objectors to be understand their issues and propose possible solutions.
OSMI has a complaints process outlined on the website and any interested party can raise an objection through multiple channels, including: phone, email, website, or in-person.
All local stakeholders will also have the opportunity to place a submission (in support or objection) to the Minister for Planning once the planning application has been placed on public consultation.
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
- 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 will be consulted extensively throughout the planning and construction phases of the project. A Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) will developed in accordance with the traditional owners and statutory requirements.
How will the community know what the visual impact of the project will be?
The towns of Moe and Morwell as well as the smaller communities Coalville to the north, Thorpdale to the west, Darlimurla to the south, and Boolarra and Yinnar to the east will be able to view the wind farm development from distinct locations. In order to assist community members to understand the visual impact from their local areas OSMI is developing photomontages and a 3D Google Earth ‘fly through’ so that community members can visualise the wind farm through an interactive and publically available screen.
Health and noise
Do you foresee any health issues with the DWF?
No. The technical and environmental assessments that we will undertake for the project will ensure that noise, shadow flicker and visual impacts associated with the placement of turbines are adequately within the regulatory limits at dwellings and will be based on thorough scientific measurement and modelling.
There is no consistent or reliable evidence, or medical research, to suggest that wind farms negatively impact on people’s health. On the contrary, wind is a clean and efficient energy source, the clean energy produced by wind farms can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, creating a cleaner atmosphere for everyone. Many people live in and around wind farms without issue.
The National Health Medical Research Council issued a revised statement on 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”.
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?
There is no consistent or reliable evidence, or medical research, to suggest that wind farms negatively impact on people’s health. On the contrary, wind is a highly efficient energy source, and the clean energy produced by wind farms can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, creating a cleaner atmosphere for everyone.
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?
Below are some links to scientific articles relating to infrasound emissions from large wind turbines. These studies show that while 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.
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 site extent or that migrate across the project area.
The size of the proposed wind turbines means that the vast majority of bird flights will be below the swept path of the blades, mitigating a large portion of 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.
I understand that wind turbines can catch fire - will the wind farm increase bushfire risk?
We take the fire risk seriously and employ a stringent risk managed approach to dealing with the management of fire risk on all our plant which includes the wind turbines and transformers.
Wind turbine technology has evolved over time and new features are available 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 to have bunding to contain any oil spills, the tank of the transformer that contains the oil is fully sealed and regular oil sampling is employed to monitor the condition of the transformers during the life of the wind farm.
- All wind turbines must 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 shuts 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 should use non-combustible hydraulic and lubricant oils where this are available, and contain nacelle fire suppression systems, either water or foam that can contain a fire.
- A fuel reduced area (free of flammable material) of four-ten (4-10) metres width must be maintained around the perimeter of all above ground electrical facilities and all plantation trees within 100m of the perimeter surrounding the base of each turbine is to be high pruned to develop a ladder fuel free fire break.
OSMI is committed to undertaking a robust fire risk assessment to duly consider all fire risks in the design of the project.
Prior to commencement of construction activities, OSMI will need to consult with CFA and the other relevant emergency authorities to prepare a Fire Mitigation and Emergency Management Plan for the construction and operation phases of the wind farm.
Due to the increased clearance zones around access roads, underground cables routes and the wind turbines themselves, it is expected that the project ‘footprint’ will improve the number, location and size of fire breaks within the plantation area.
Will aerial fire fighting still be possible with wind turbines in the area?
Wind turbines do not prevent fighting fires by aerial methods. It’s the pilots responsibility to maintain separate alike any other vertical hazard (i.e. communications tower, masts) and operate under visual flight rules. Each aircraft and pilot have varying levels of experience, ability and other external factors (i.e. weather to determine what separation they need to maintain). The AFAC have released a position paper (25 Oct 2018) in relation to wind farm and bushfire operations.
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 an applicant has any questions about the wind farm and how it relates to their application, OSMI would be happy to have a conversation 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 area per wind turbine that is currently used for plantation timber growing. This impact area covers required clearance for access roads to bring in the wind turbine components, the installation crane pad and wind turbine foundation at each wind turbine tower site 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. OSMI will work proactively with HVP Plantations to minimise our impacts on the custodial native vegetation patches that exist in and around the plantation areas. Once the native vegetation impacts have been quantified through our independent ecological surveys, OMSI will make these publicly available.
Construction and operation
Will the construction process disturb the traffic?
There will be some disruptions during construction and major deliveries. A traffic impact assessment will be prepared during the planning phase to assess traffic impacts on local roads.
The project has been designed to minimise the use of existing public roads where possible to help reduce any traffic impacts on the local residents.
Some level of upgrades are likely to be required to ensure the existing publics roads to be used are of adequate width, bearing capacity and slope (dips and rises). Upgrades are likely to be required at intersections to allow safe turning movements of construction traffic and to allow the movement of over dimensions loads (particularly the wind turbine blades).
A Traffic Management Plan will prepared in consultation with three local Councils and VicRoads. This will outline levels and routes of additional traffic associated with the wind farm.
Where will water come from for construction?
Water supplies will be investigated during the planning phase. Water requirements for the project relate to 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 provisions for decommissioning which require that the operator of the wind farm or the owner of the land must undertake the following:
- Removal of all above ground operational equipment
- Clean up of spills
- Rehab of areas affected by closure/decommissioning unless useful to landowner operations (e.g. tracks)
- A Traffic management plan
- Vegetation rehabilitation plan
OSMI has agreed a process with the landowner whereby OSMI is obliged to provide a bond at least 5 years prior to the end of the site lease covering the estimated costs to decommission the project.
Is lighting of the turbines required?
An Aviation Risk Assessment will be undertaken in consultation with the relevant aviation regulatory bodies undertaken to determine if aviation lighting will be 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 clear 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 residences. If a resident reports any signal disruption after the turbines are installed, we will be able to determine if the project caused the disruption. We can then implement a resolution. Possible rectification measures may include the installation of improved antennas or satellite dishes.
Will the turbines cause problems for aircraft?
An independent Aviation Risk Assessment will be undertaken to investigate the risk the project will pose to aircraft.
OSMI has put in place operating protocols with the landowner for the temporary shut down 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 fire fighting 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 (min 640m spacing).
What are the company’s future plans in Australia?
OSMI will investigate the feasibility of other similar projects to DWF, being forestry based wind farms, throughout other areas in the Latrobe Valley area and other parts of Victoria that has access to existing transmission networks and commercially viable wind resources.
Will OSMI keep ownership of the project?
Under OSMI’s current funding arrangements, it is expected that OSMI will sell the majority or all equity in the project prior to the commencement of construction. That said, OSMI may provide ongoing services given our knowledge of the project and established relationships with the key project stakeholders.