October 25, 2017
A meeting to discuss business opportunities surrounding the construction of the Coopers Gap Wind Farm drew a capacity crowd in Kingaroy on Wednesday night.
The meeting was called by AGL and its principal contractors, General Electric and Civil & Allied Technical Construction (CATCON), and was held at the Kingaroy Showgrounds’ Luncheon Hall.
Spokesmen from GE and CATCON explained their companies’ roles in the project, and what types of goods and services will be required during the project’s anticipated 20-month construction phase.
While work on constructing a substation near Niagara Road at Cooranga North began in September, work on preparing the wind farm site will not begin in earnest until January.
The towers are expected to start being erected in mid-2018, and the first power should start to flow from the site by October or November 2018.
The GE spokesman said his company was supplying the turbines for the project.
Coopers Gap will use two different types of turbines: a 3.8MW tower with 130m blades which will be the first of its type installed in Australia, and a 3.6MW tower with 137m blades which will be placed at locations that experience lower wind speeds.
Once concrete bases have been prepared for the towers, it usually took about two and a half days to put a tower up, providing wind conditions were favourable.
The wind farm will have a total of 123 turbines with a 453 MW capacity and is expected to produce 1.5 million MWh each year.
A CATCON spokesman told the meeting their company had been in business for 20 years and had been involved in more than a dozen wind farm projects.
From this, they had learned the best results came from using as many locally-supplied goods and services as possible.
CATCON will be overseeing their portion of the project with a small core team, and trying to source appropriately skilled local subcontractors to do the bulk of the work.
Up to 350 workers are likely to be required during the wind farm’s construction, although not all will work through the full 20-month construction period, and not all will be on site at the same time.
Once the wind farm is built, it will then require maintenance over its anticipated 25-year lifespan.
This will create an estimated 15 full-time jobs for turbine maintenance staff, along with periodic site maintenance opportunities for local businesses.
The turbines will also need to be removed and the site rehabilitated once the wind farm reaches the end of its working life, which will create further business opportunities in the future.
In response to a question from the floor about whether they South Burnett would get a fair share of the project’s business opportunities, CATCON said it would do its best to spread the benefits equally between the South Burnett and Western Downs regions, subject to service availability and normal commercial considerations.
The company’s first preference was to source as much as possible locally, but if any type of service was not available or not available in the quantities needed, CATCON would have no choice but to source from further afield.
CATCON said the wind farm would offer ongoing opportunities for seed and environmental control; small equipment hire; minor transport and freight; minor lift cranes; cleaners; computer network support; food and catering services; septic pump out services; liquid and solid waste management; potable water; accommodation; and safety products.
The company will also be seeking traffic management services, conduit supply, fuel, mechanical fitters, welding and engineering fabrication services, fencing and gates, wet and dry earthworks plant hire, precast culverts and drainage materials and material testing for site preparation works starting on January 18.
And it will be seeking concreters, mobile batch plant, back up concrete pumps and offsite concrete supply for the start of turbine base preparation work, which will occur in mid-March.
More generally, the company will also be seeking plant operators with loaders, excavators, graders, rollers, dump trucks and bulldozers; and concreters, pipe layers and general labourers.
GE played this video during Wednesday night’s meeting to show the steps involved in setting up a wind turbine; it was shot on the company’s turbine proving ground at Wieringermeer in the Netherlands