Australia has 36 operating wind farms and, hold onto your hats, there are plenty more on the way.

Story By Paul Myers

From high on a wind-blown ridge on his family property “Gundowringa”, Charlie Prell can see the future. On the other side of the road linking Crookwell and Goulburn, on the New South Wales Southern Tablelands, the eight turbines of Eraring Energy’s pioneering wind farm, built in 1998, are turning in a strengthening southerly. Some 35 kilometres south, the 15 turbines of Origin Energy’s new Cullerin Range wind farm are visible near Gunning. A further 40km away are 67 gleaming white rolled-steel towers that comprise Infigen Energy’s new Capital Wind Farm at Bungendore.
On the ridge where Charlie is observing this scene, the wind is almost strong enough to blow off the blue Union Fenosa cap he is wearing. It’s a welcome wind because, if everything proceeds to plan, in a year’s time, 20 of the 46 turbines of the new Crookwell II wind farm will be operating on Gundowringa. They will give the Prells a guaranteed income of at least $120,000 a year – enough, Charlie says, for future generations of the family, which has been on the property since 1904, to remain there.
Charlie’s family have no qualms about 80-metre towers being built on their land within a few hundred metres of their homes, or the disruption the 12-month construction phase will take. “The future value of the land will be enhanced,” Charlie says. “The two-kilometre exclusion zone [which prevents towers being built any closer to neighbouring homes] will prevent subdivisions and encourage land to remain under family ownership. The money we receive will enable us to drought-proof the property [through lower stocking rates and taking a more conservative approach].”
Charlie maintains it would be negligent not to take advantage of the wind, perhaps the most sustainable resource in the area. “Wind is the only viable way of producing renewable energy,” he says. “If there has to be a few turbines to offset the impact of climate change, it’s a small price to pay.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #74

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2011