Crookwell Wind Farm

Harnessing the power of nature.

A wind farm might not seem to be a "Natural Attraction" in that it represents the latest in energy technology.

Technology that is, however, used to harness nature - in this case the wind itself blowing over the high plains on the Great Dividing Range south of Crookwell.

Some 10 kms south of Crookwell and 960 metres above sea level, this 'wind farm' is one of three in Australia.

Crookwell wind farm

Traditional farm windmill Old idea, new technology.

Designed to harvest renewable energy, windfarms help lessen the tendency to rely on other less environmentally friendly sources such as coal - with its undesirable by-products of 'greenhouse gases' or hydroelectric power, which comes at the expense of environmental damage.

Wind power, of course, is not new. On the farms around this installation can be seen the ubiquitous windmills of the Australian countryside - used to pump water up from subterranean bores.

And a century and a half ago many country areas had wind powered flour mills (now long since gone), where the wind was used to drive grinding wheels which turned wheat into flour.

The Vestas V44-600kW turbine.

These modern 'windmills' are the product of extensive meteorological, scientific, electronic and engineering research by Vestas Systems AS of Denmark.

You get your first glimpse of the wind farm as you drive up the rise just north of Pejar Dam - an ethereal row of large white blades turning lazily on the horizon.

A viewing platform on the next rise allows you to see them closer up, and has display boards explaining how they work - worth a stop to have a look.

There are 8 turbines in all, each atop a 45 metre steel tower weighing 36 tonnes.

From the ground they look like giant propellors from some mammoth plane hovering noiselessly in the air.

Made of fibreglass, each has a hub and 3 blades and is some 44 metres in diameter (total weight eight and a half tonnes!).

Vestas Wind System turbine

600 kW turbine Turning wind into electricity.

The turbines work on a similar principle to a fan - except where a fan has a motor to turn the blades to push the air, here the air turns the blades which then turn over a 'motor' (generator) to produce electricity.

The electricity is generated in the pod ('nacelle' - itself weighing nineteen tonnes) behind the blades, and the whole assembly rotates 360 degrees around the pole so that the blades are always pointing into the wind.

Computer controlled power station.

To maximise the efficiency of the turbines, each has its own computerised control system which regulates the speed of the blades (they shut down when the wind gets over 72 kms per hour) and by using data about wind direction and speed make sure they are pointing in the best direction for operation.

Electricity is produced this way: the blades start when the wind speed reaches 15 kms per hour and rotate at 28 rpm; this motion is directed through a gearbox which increases the rotation and drives the turbine at 1500rpm; the turbine produces electricity at 600kw which is then supplied through transformers to the high voltage transmission grid.

power station

Pacific Power link

The 8 turbines at Crookwell produce a total of 5 Megawatts of power - sufficient to power 3,500 homes, and is the first to be connected directly to the main power grid.

A project of Great Southern Energy and Pacific Power, the windfarm saves 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year over coal-based power - good for our environment.

For more technical information on the windfarm, click on the logo at left to go to the Pacific Power website.

Information courtesy of Pacific Power and Great Southern Energy. Last updated 20/6/07

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