Gladstone named as top spot for coastline wind farm
ELECTRICITY guzzling Gladstone could be sitting on prime wind farm real estate - only, it's not where you might think.
With one of the shallowest coastlines in Australia and an average annual wind speed of 6.4 metres per second, sustainable energy Associate Professor Mark Diesendorf rates Gladstone's potential for an offshore wind farm among the highest in Australia.
Dr Diesendorf said 1000 homes in Gladstone could be fully powered by wind-generated energy if three to five turbines were installed offshore.
But this type of technology doesn't come cheaply.
"If it costs $3000 per kilowatt and you have a 10 megawatt wind farm (three to five wind turbines) you could be looking at $30 million to build it," he said.
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"The cost of offshore wind is coming down but the question is if it will come down sufficiently so the advantages of offshore wind farms outweigh the additional capital costs."
Because of Gladstone's shallow coastline, the cost of installing wind turbines would be significantly cheaper than other locations currently in use in Europe.
Gladstone Regional Councillor Col Chapman said there hadn't been any interest in wind farms from the council as part of its future renewable energy strategy.
"I'm not sure if wind would be a viable option for us," he said. Cr Chapman supported the idea in principle but cited the high amount of shipping, lack of wind during winter and the World Heritage-listed status of the area as reasons for its unsuitability.
Dr Diesendorf acknowledged "other competing factors" would need to be considered before building an offshore wind farm in Gladstone but said it would be a valuable investment for the area.
Offshore wind turbines harness energy from ocean winds and create electricity
The service life of a wind turbine is at least 20 years
There are 2160 offshore wind turbines in use in Europe