Renewable Energy Park is a term used to describe a renewable energy operation with a range of generating sources. Wind turbines will be the primary form of energy generation at both the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Parks. UPC Renewables Australia is investigating the potential to install battery storage to complement wind energy generation at both Parks and at Jim’s Plain we have been working with the landowners to identify a suitable location for a small-scale solar installation. The inclusion of a solar array is still subject to an economic assessment.
The approval documentation for Jim’s Plain, a Development Application and Development Proposal and Environmental Management Plan, has been lodged with the Circular Head Council and the EPA; it is expected to be on public display in the near future. The approval documentation for Robbins Island is expected to be lodged with the Circular Head Council and the EPA in the third quarter of 2019.
Each of the two Renewable Energy Park projects will need at least three different approvals.
Once the Renewable Energy Park Design Reports have been approved, construction will commence on a rolling basis. Construction on Robbins Island is expected to commence in the 3rd quarter of 2021,while the construction of Jim’s Plain is expected to commence in the 4th quarter of 2021.
Currently large scale renewable energy is the cheapest form of generation when you look to build new electricity generation infrastructure. Many factors contribute to household electricity costs including aging poles and wires, retirement of coal fired power stations, and metering and retail services. Simple market economics suggest that prices should decrease as supply increases.
The investment of between $1.3 – $1.6 billion to develop and construct the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain projects is significant in the context of the Circular Head region and Tasmania more broadly and will provide substantial opportunities for local businesses. The two renewable energy parks are anticipated to generate significant employment opportunities with up to 400 people required for construction and at full development, an operational workforce of up to 65 people. In addition, typical goods and services likely to be sourced locally during construction and operation of the projects include:
- Accommodation & catering
- Construction materials and equipment
- Local labour
- Earthworks services
- Fencing and landscaping
Visual impact assessments have been conducted as part of the assessment process for both projects, this has included the development of photomontages which show the wind turbines from various surrounding viewpoints. Given the topography of both sites visual impacts will be unavoidable. However, the impacts should be considered in a broader context; that being much of the surrounding landscape has already been modified through land clearing, intensive farming practices, forestry operations and the nearby Woolnorth Wind Farms.
A number of flora and fauna assessments were undertaken as part of previous work to develop wind farms at each site. UPC Renewables Australia has undertaken its own surveys and will incorporate the data from the previous surveys in the assessment documentation, as this provides a more comprehensive understanding of the potential impacts to flora and fauna at each site. Both renewable energy parks will be required to meet conditions from both State and Federal Government environmental agencies to ensure that any potential impacts to threatened species and other environmental matters are adequately addressed prior to final design and construction. These will include micro-siting of turbines (and ancillary infrastructure) to minimise clearance of native vegetation and fauna habitat, as well as the development of detailed construction and operations environment management plans.
Given the distance that the Robbins Island project is from nearby residences, it has been anticipated that noise from wind turbines will not have a negative impact on people. The nearest residence to the Jim’s Plain project is closer than that of Robbins Island; however, noise from the turbines is not expected to have a negative impact. Noise assessments have been conducted as part of the planning process, which have shown that neither renewable energy park will exceed the wind farm noise standard. UPC Renewables Australia will be required to demonstrate during operation that noise levels from the turbines actually meet the strict noise standard as predicted. The standard has been designed to ensure that the noise from a wind farm is not intrusive for the average person.
Tasmanians own more than 25 per cent of the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Parks development company. UPC Renewables Australia head office is in Hobart, and management and the decision makers live in Tasmania. UPC Renewables and AC Energy are passive foreign investors in the development of these projects and own the rest of the company. This arrangement is similar to the existing wind farm ownership structures in Tasmania. UPC Renewables Australia will be the long-term operator of the renewable energy parks.
Yes. Based on specialist modelling, feedback from the community and some innovative design we have been able find a solution that is now all bridge (compared to the earlier designs which were a combination of causeway and bridge). The bridge will:
- Be approximately 1.2 km long (the crossing is 1.4 km wide) and either side of the bridge concrete/rock ramps will connect the bridge to the land either side of Robbins Passage.
- Have piles approximately 15 m apart and will allow the free flow of water through the Passage.
- Be low in profile on the West Montagu side of the Passage and will rise up on the Robbins Island side to allow vessels up to 5 m in height to pass through the channel at high tide.
- Be a single lane wide constructed from pre-cast concrete.
- The bridge will not hinder recreational vehicles accessing Robbins Passage from Robbins Island Road - the concrete/rock ramp at the end of Robbins Island Road will be low in profile which will enable vehicles to drive east or west at low tide.
UPC Renewables Australia is currently working with TasNetworks on connecting the renewable energy parks to the Tasmanian transmission network. Planning for the transmission line is underway; it is proposed to transfer the electricity from Robbins Island, via cables embedded into the bridge, to mainland Tasmania where the cables will transition to an overhead transmission line and then continue to Hampshire via Jim’s Plain. Resolving the final transmission line route will be subject to consultation and obtaining the relevant approvals. UPC Renewables Australia is committed to consult with affected landowners, key stakeholders, planning authorities, and the community to ensure that their views are considered in the planning process for the transmission line.
A range of wind turbines sizes are being considered to enable UPC Renewables Australia to use the latest and most efficient technology available. Technology is evolving rapidly and as a result larger turbines are now being used which substantially reduces the number of turbines required on a site. The exact number of turbines is still to be determined. The final number will be determined by the technology available; as well as the wind resource, and environmental, and social factors.
A range of wind turbines sizes are being considered to enable UPC Renewables Australia to use the latest and most efficient technology available. Technology is evolving rapidly and as a result larger turbines are now being used which substantially reduces the number of turbines on a site. The exact number of turbines is still to be determined. The final number will be determined by the technology available; as well as the wind resource, and environmental, and social factors.
Both projects will be required to obtain State and Federal environmental approvals, which include addressing impacts on threatened flora and fauna. UPC Renewables Australia has undertaken extensive, studies over the last two years to understand the ecology of the sites. This information will be combined with previous studies to form part of the approval documentation for both renewable energy parks. To minimise any potential impacts we:
- Have developed eagle management and monitoring plans;
- Have applied a 1 km exclusion zone around each nest (whether it is active or not) to minimise the potential impact to the eagles on the island, this means there will be no infrastructure within these areas;
- Are investigating the use of the latest sensing technology which can detect eagles and shut down turbines if collision is a risk;
- Are seeking opportunities to assist with research into eagles;
- Are supporting activities to protect eagles more widely in Tasmania , such as providing funding to the Raptor Refuge.
Shadow flicker is the change in light level experienced from a wind turbine blade rotating between the sun and the person looking at the blade. A conservative model of shadow flicker can be developed using the relative positions of the sun throughout the year, the wind turbines at the site, and the viewer. A shadow flicker assessment has been conducted as part of the approval documentation for the proposal.
All major wind turbine blade manufacturers finish their blades with a low reflectivity treatment. This prevents a potentially annoying reflective glint and the possibility of a strobing reflection when the blades are spinning.
UPC will proceed with the first stage of the project without the second Bass Straight interconnector. The second Bass Strait interconnector (Marinus Link) is crucial to deliver the energy generated from Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation project to the Australian electricity grid. The second interconnector will also enable full development of the Robbins Island Renewable Energy Park. UPC Renewables Australia welcomed the State and Federal Governments’ announcement of a $20 million funding initiative to develop a business case and an additional $56 million to help advance the second interconnector project. The latest announcement gives us further confidence to proceed with the full development of our Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain Renewable Energy Parks. The Second Interconnector is expected to be completed by 2025.