Macarthur is a 420MW wind farm near Hamilton, 260km west of Melbourne.
It is the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and required an investment of $1bn.
The wind farm was commissioned in January 2013. Credit: AGL Energy.

Macarthur is a 420MW wind farm near Hamilton, 260km west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The wind farm was commissioned in January 2013. It is the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and required an investment of $1bn.

The project was developed by a 50/50 joint venture of AGL Energy and New Zealand-based power generating company Meridian Energy. In June 2013, Meridian Energy sold its 50% stake to Malaysia’s Malakoff Corporation Berhad. In addition to sharing the cost of the wind farm, AGL also invested an additional $27m in the substation, which is completely owned by the company.

The wind farm can power more than 220,000 households in Victoria while eliminating 1.7 million tonnes of greenhouse gases a year.

The project helps the government to partially meet its expanded renewable energy target to produce 9,500MW of renewable energy by 2020.

In September 2015, AGL Energy sold its 50% stake in the wind farm to H R L Morrison & Co managed funds (Morrison & Co) for $532m.

AGL Energy will operate and maintain the wind farm in lieu of Morrison & Co and Malakoff. It also reserves the rights to all renewable energy certificates and electricity production until 2038.

Macarthur wind farm details

“Macarthur is a 420MW wind farm near Hamilton, 260km west of Melbourne.”

The wind farm was built over 5,500ha of agricultural land between the townships of Macarthur, Hawkesdale and Penshurst in the western districts of Victoria.

The site was chosen due to its potential wind harvesting capacity, existing transmission lines and community support.

The Macarthur wind farm features 140 Vestas V112-3.0MW wind turbines. The original plan was to use 2.4MW turbines, which would have required 174 towers. The decision to use higher-capacity wind turbines reduced the number of towers from 174 to 140. It also helped to achieve substantial savings of $30m in operational costs over the life of the wind farm.

The turbines are connected via 90km-long underground cables, which are connected to a sub-substation at the site and also to the terminal substation at Tarrone.

The Macarthur wind farm has a capacity factor of approximately 34% and contracted output of approximately 1,240GWh a year.

Development of the project

The project was proposed in 2004 and approved by the Victorian Government in October 2006. Site clearance and civil works began in the fourth quarter of 2010 with the first turbine erected in November 2011. The ecological impact on surrounding flora and fauna was assessed by Australia’s Brett Lane & Associates (BL&A).

Allens Arthur Robinson provided financial advisory services to Meridian Energy in order to form a joint venture with AGL Energy for the development of the Macarthur wind farm.

US-based engineering and construction company KBR was awarded the project management services contract in February 2011.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract was awarded to a consortium of Leighton Contractors and Vestas. The contract also included a ten-year service agreement and the supply of the Vestas SCADA solution.

NOSKE Group transported the turbine towers, blades, hubs and containers from Keppel Prince Engineering, the point of manufacture, to the project site for Leighton Contractors.

“The wind farm is capable of powering an average of 220,000 households in Victoria, Australia.”

Technology incorporated into the Australian wind farm

The Vestas V112 turbine has a maximum blade tip height of 140m, a rotor diameter of 112m and 9,850m² sweep area.

The turbine system comes with options including condition-monitoring systems, smoke and ice detectors and a fire extinguishing system. It is ideal for use where sound-level limits are in force. The blades are designed to be less sensitive to dirt, which results in better performance at sites affected by salt, insects and other particles.

The state-of-the art CoolerTop technology cools the water used in the turbine cooling system by channelling wind into the heat exchanger. This results in lower energy consumption for cooling the turbine.

Wind farm construction

The project required 56,000m³ of concrete pour for 8,400t of concrete reinforcement. It also included the laying of 90km of onsite access tracks, installation of 140 turbine towers, 420 blades, 140 hubs and 280 containers.

A total of 80 out of the 140 wind towers were manufactured by Portland-based Keppel Prince Engineering, while the remaining 60 were built by Adelaide-based RPG Australia.

A concrete batching plant was also built for producing concrete for the wind farm construction.

Grid network

Power generated at the Macarthur wind farm is transmitted to the Tarrone substation via a 12km-long, 132kV overhead transmission line.