Installing wind turbines in just five sites in State-owned pine plantations could generate up to 2.5 gigawatts of energy a year, a registration of interest process has revealed, prompting Forestry Corporation to formally call for Expressions of Interest to develop renewable energy generation and storage in plantations near Oberon, Sunny Corner, Bondo, Orange and Laurel Hill. Source: Timberbiz
Forestry Corporation Strategy and Risk Manager Gavin Jeffries said close to 50 providers responded to a Registration of Interest process, identifying enormous potential to boost renewable energy production in NSW and power over 1.5 million homes annually.
“We see co-locating renewable energy developments within timber plantations as an innovative opportunity to boost renewable energy production in NSW and the renewable energy market agrees, with 47 providers registering their interest,” Mr Jeffries said.
“Overwhelmingly, wind power has emerged as the most feasible technology and the pine plantations near Oberon, Sunny Corner, Bondo, Orange and Laurel Hill have been identified as prime locations for wind turbines, pumped hydro systems and battery storage.
“Wind farms successfully operate in softwood forests overseas and in Australia, State forest pine plantations are ideal locations because they are often remote from local communities and homes but have good connections to the existing high voltage transmission network. They are located in windy areas and have an existing road network.
“Wind turbine projects in these five sites could together produce 25 per cent more clean energy than the Snowy 2.0 project, or enough to provide power to over 1.5 million homes. Other technologies could further increase generation capacity.
“While this is an exciting prospect, we are still in the very early stages of assessing these opportunities and we will use the EOI process to help us to understand more about what these developments might look like and which are suitable to investigate further.
“We will only ever consider a renewable energy project that is compatible with our activities to produce renewable timber, provide community access, manage fire and maintain sustainable forest management. We also have strict requirements limiting the footprint of developments and ensuring we maintain an ongoing supply of renewable timber from plantations.
“We recognise that local communities will be very interested in any potential developments in their local communities and assure them that if any suitable opportunities are identified, like any other development, normal planning applications and approval would be required.
“This includes community consultation as well as consideration of the environmental impact, noise, landscape and visual impacts, traffic and transport issues, hazard and risks, cultural heritage, water and soil impacts and waste management.
“Our State-owned pine plantations produce enough renewable timber to build around 35,000 homes a year and by producing renewable energy we will also be able to power those homes.”