By Adam Bennett and Nick Ralston
October 08, 2007 06:39pm
Article from: AAP

AUSTRALIA'S largest wind farm, with the capacity to generate enough electricity for 400,000 homes, could be up and running in far western NSW by the end of 2009.

Renewable energy group Epuron announced its proposal today to install about 500 wind turbines northwest of Broken Hill.

Epuron executive director Andrew Durran said if approved by the NSW Government, the wind farm, near the historic town of Silverton, could be operational in stages by late 2009.

NSW Energy Minister Ian Macdonald said the Government would look positively at the wind power proposal.

However, Premier Morris Iemma has warned the Federal Government's uncertainty around a national trading scheme could hold up the investment.

The company will submit a development application for the farm in March next year, with approval expected by the end of the year.

The $2 billion project could produce up to 4.5 per cent of NSW's annual energy needs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by three million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, the company said.

"Silverton Wind Farm will be one of the largest in the world once it's operating, with the potential for almost 1000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity," Mr Durran said.

He said he had also spoken to the communities of Silverton and Broken Hill, with most people showing support for a project that would create 100 permanent jobs in the area.

Four landholders have already agreed to host the wind turbines.

Mr Durran agreed with Mr Iemma that differences between the federal and NSW clean energy targets were a concern, as they created confusion and delays for renewable energy providers.

Under the Federal Government's national Clean Energy Target, announced last month, 30,000 gigawatt hours each year would have to come from low emissions sources by 2020 – about 15 per cent of Australia's energy consumption.

Prime Minister John Howard said the Government would consult with the states and industry in designing and implementing the scheme, which he said would take effect no later than January 2010.

The federal plan would replace state-based schemes – with NSW having already set a renewable energy target of 15 per cent by 2020.

"We all know the rules are going to change," Mr Iemma said.

"But the Commonwealth won't tell us when they'll change or how they'll change, and that creates uncertainty."

The other stumbling block is Epuron's stated wish for the State Government to guarantee it will only buy renewable energy from within NSW.

At present, renewable energy generation can be purchased from other states.

Mr Macdonald said the Government had no intention of changing the legislation, with experts saying NSW is not a high wind state.

"We are a national grid after all, so where the source of the power comes from isn't exactly the most relevant issue," Mr Macdonald said.

He said the most important issue was meeting targets by using renewable energy.,23599,22551277-29277,00.html