Waubra Wind Farm

Renewable energy is one of my passions, and when Kim suggested we take a field trip to a wind farm as part of Ben’s science class, I jumped at the chance.

Kim did the research for the trip, and decided upon a visit to the third largest wind farm in Australia, which was about 101 km (60 miles) away from our home.  It took just under 1 hour 15 minutes to get there.  As I drove along, Kim read out the lesson on wind power out of the science book, and Ben answered the questions.  It certainly passed the time, and I threw in my ‘Dad’ trivia as we went along, as you do.

Here is the Wikipedia description of the wind farm;

“The Waubra wind farm is located 35 km north-west of Ballarat and was completed in July 2009. It consists of 128 wind turbines, with associated substations and an operations centre. Each wind turbine has a capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW), providing a total installed capacity of 192 MW. Waubra is the third largest wind farm in Australia, after Hallett Wind Farm (298MW) and Lake Bonney Wind Farm (279MW).
The green energy generated by the wind farm each year provides electricity for 143,000 households – more than enough to power Ballarat. The Waubra Wind Farm offsets up to 635,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.”

Enough to power Ballarat.  That was impressive.
As we approached the town, we could see the wind turbines turning in the distance.  

We all got very excited, and as we drove along the Sunraysia Hwy (B220), the wind farm just kept getting bigger and bigger.

The rolling hills around Waubra are literally covered in wind turbines as far as the eye can see.

Below is a view from the tourist spot just to the north of the town.  It was okay, but we wanted better.  I dug out my phone and pulled up google maps to see if there was a way to get a better view.

As luck would have it, just to the north of the tourist spot, there was a single lane road called Troys Rd, which weaved its way through the main part of the wind farm.

We followed it until we got to this idyllic spot in the countryside.  Nice view, with the some of the turbines off into the distance.  The cows didn’t seam to mind at all,

The cows were only about 50 metres away from a tower, and just kept on eating grass.  We were about 200 metres away, and could not hear any noise from the turbines around us.  The wind whistling through the trees was much louder, and take my word for it, it was a very windy day.

Here is Ben and I smiling for the camera.  I had to take my glasses off because of the transition lenses.

We continued up Troys Rd, until we found a wind turbine close very close to the road, because we wanted to see if we could hear it.

I took a quick video of this turbine that was about 75 metres (250 feet) away from us.  You can just hear the noise made by the tips of the blades as they fly past at about 220 kph (136 mph)!   I warn you in advance, that there is a lot of wind noise in the microphone, for which I apologise.

This is a still shot of the turbine that I took the video footage of.  It was so awe inspiring, and we were all excited and giggling like school kids (which was okay for Ben, but funny to see Kim so overwhelmed).
At about 100 metres we could no longer hear the sound, only that of the wind itself, so it goes to show that a lot of the hype as I described in the post titled “Busting Myths About Wind Turbines“, is just that, hype.  After re-reading the post, I noticed that none of the three directors of the astroturf group the Waubra Foundation actually live in the town or anywhere near the wind farm.  It just goes to show that Wind Turbine Syndrome is more than likely to be fabricated by vested interests, with on foot firmly in the fossil fuel camp, delaying action on climate change.
Anyway, we all came away from the visit a little wiser, and full of fresh country air!  A great field trip, and it helped Ben to understand this form of renewable energy just that little bit better.  We are going to visit a coal fired power station next, just to make the comparison, but it won’t be for a few months until after Sustainable House Day.
So what is your verdict?  Good or Bad for us and the planet, or would you rather live next to a coal mine and coal fired power station?

Comments

  1. Ian says

    Hmmm. Interesting post Gavin.
    “idyllic spot in the countryside…” – not sure the wind turbines add to that.

    However, certainly much less worse than coal mines. Am currently reading the book “Rich Land, Wasteland” by Sharyn Munro which is about how coal is killing Australia. Until reading this book, I thought the Hunter Valley in NSW was an idyllic valley with many wineries and horse training stables. Google Earth between Mussellbrook and Singleton in NSW – it is almost one big coal mine (okay a slight exaguration – almost). So much for that idyllic valley.

    Me? I would prefer wind turbines. A good post Gavin.

  2. says

    Well, the coal mine planned for underneath my home and property, the local valleys and creeks is back in the agenda and let me tell you, I would much rather have a group of wind turbines! I think the wind towers, as I call them, are almost beautiful, can anyone believe that?

    I have been near one too and am disappointed at the negative response to them. Would the vast majority really prefer the devastation to the landscape such as the mines Ian mentions, or the subsidence and contamination of our water supply of an underground coal mine?

  3. says

    Wind turbines any day! I think they are stately things and I love watching them. There are plans to build another wind farm just outside of Ballan too, to which I will give 100% support. In my opinion, even if they were a little noisy, a little noise pollution versus a LOT of dirty coal smoke pollution is an easy choice to make. I would opt for renewable fuels any time any day.

  4. The warm fireplace says

    Have been enjoying reading your blog for a while am just getting started on our plans for a simple life, live in the uk and have 3 1/2 acres of grass!Have started to put fruit in first, trees etc and trying to encourage wildlife in. Brilliant post when we go to the norfolk coast they are putting wind turbines all out at sea, it is the only way forward as one of the options to make energy.
    sue

  5. says

    My best friend lives in Ottendorf, a small village outside Schweinfurt in Germany.

    There is a big forest behind her house which we walk in everyday whenever I visit. To the left you have views of the big windfarm and to the right a view of a nuclear power plant. Ahhhh the contrast! But my friend doesnt live far from this windfarm and they never mention it as a problem. Nor whenever I have spent time in Germany do I hear “debate” about windfarms health effects. They’re simply everywhere and people have embraced them!

  6. says

    I pick the wind farm every time. I have driven past that wind farm on my way home from Ballarat one day and it was truly amazing. All those beautiful blades – and I think they are beautiful and non polluting – spinning gracefully in the wind. Stunning.

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