Project

Whaleback Ridge

As the world transitions away from fossil fuels the demand for clean renewable electricity will grow exponentially. We are seeing a shift to ‘electrify’ our lives. This includes in our homes, our vehicles and increasingly across industries. Right across the community everyone has a part to play to reach zero net emissions.

Tasmania is currently 100% renewable energy and ahead of the curve. But we can’t stop there. We have the resources available in quantities that can see us lead the changes necessary to combat climate change and open new areas of opportunity for all Tasmanians.

Whaleback Ridge Renewable Energy Project

This is a world-class renewable energy project proposed for the west coast of Tasmania. Designed to be built over stages, it will generate up to 3 gigawatts (3GW) of electricity from wind turbines to not only complement Tasmania’s growing power needs, but also to support on-Island loads for existing industry and new industries such as e-fuels and green hydrogen that can be used in Tasmania, Australia and beyond.

This project harnesses the substantial and consistent wind resource on the remote west coast. Initial meteorological mast data confirms the wind farm will have one of the highest capacity factors of any renewables project in Australia, eclipsing the highly successful Granville Harbour site, driving the economics of a project that will make a significant contribution to the global energy transition to clean energy.

Snapshot

  • $6B construction program
  • 3GW capacity (288MW stage one)
  • ~1000 jobs during Stage One alone
  • 500 operational jobs over 25 years
  • More than 1 million homes could be powered each year

Project Overview

The team behind Whaleback Ridge Renewable Energy Project gained insight into what is possible through the initial development of the Granville Harbour Wind Farm. That project was the catalyst for realising and proving the potential of Tasmania’s remote west coast.

The wild weather that once held the West Coast back, will take us forward.  

The project, which is 3GW at full capacity, is planned to be delivered in stages. The scalability makes the project more manageable by developing the resources, skills and investment in step with the rapidly evolving global renewables industry. It also maximises the role of Tasmanian businesses to participate in, and benefit from, the project.

Project Benefits

WRE is committed to optimising local industry and workforce participation and is encouraged by the widespread support shown for the project to date. Consultation with business groups, local councils, advanced manufacturing companies, and community representatives have underlined a desire to see Tasmania utilise its strong comparative advantage to supply large-scale renewable energy and create a new source of economic activity for the west coast. This is a multi-year development project and will feature extensive community engagement and deliver economic benefits over its lifetime.

Locational Advantage

The concept of the Whaleback Ridge Renewable Energy Project began with a recognition that large-scale renewable energy projects should be carefully developed and located at sites with low environmental impact.

The West Coast Renewable Energy Team has selected the site for its locational advantages including:

  • Access to an exceptional wind resource
  • An area of land with existing disturbances that requires no clearing of trees for the turbine locations
  • Existing transmission lines and easements that run through the proposed site which can be used for direct connection to the grid
  • Remote location with no residents expected to be impacted visually or by noise
  • Close to the existing Granville Harbour Wind Farm
  • Low utilisation of the site by threatened avifauna. Environmental surveys already completed confirm a low likelihood of impact on threatened species with “exclusion zones” established to avoid impacts
  • Adjacent to existing road networks
  • Strategically located in the North West Tasmania Renewable Energy Zone for optimal development of the National Electricity Market as identified by the AEMO
  • Land designated as regional reserve. A wind farm is consistent with the reserve objective of ‘providing for the controlled use of natural resources’

Economic Benefits

The project will bring great opportunities to the west coast of Tasmania. The construction phase during Stage One alone will support a significant number of jobs in the State, many of those local on the west coast and in Burnie.

The scale of the project means there is a greater likelihood of local manufacture of components and associated technologies. This creates skilled jobs and discussions have started about linking with the advanced manufacturing sector in the region.

As seen during the build of the Granville Harbour Wind Farm, there are many indirect flow-on benefits to the communities in towns such as Zeehan, Rosebery, Queenstown and Strahan. The uplift in sectors as diverse as logistics, accommodation, supermarkets, hospitality and administration is considerable.

After construction there will be more than 500 ongoing jobs in wind farm maintenance, as well as roles related to downstream production (e.g.; hydrogen and e-fuels) and transport that together can contribute to the economic diversity of the west coast economy. Low-cost green energy can also be utilised in Tasmania to value add a range of products, to decarbonise existing industry, attract new investment into the State and revitalise communities.

Social Benefits & Community

WRE is committed to ensuring community benefits from the project are realised, including developing skills and expertise to underpin the growth of the renewable energy industry more broadly in Tasmania.

Education initiatives will involve on-the-job training as the project goes through its development stages and construction. Post-construction, the Whaleback Ridge Renewable Energy Project has the potential to generate more than 500 permanent, skilled, and semi-skilled full-time jobs.

WRE is committed to an industry participation plan and using local content for construction where it is available and viable to do so.

 

As part of the community consultation process WRE will work directly with community stakeholders to develop a benefits sharing scheme to enhance opportunities for local people.

WRE is committed to providing every opportunity for business in Tasmania’s west and northwest regions to benefit from our projects. The Advance West Northwest Association is a close partner organisation that will act as a conduit and allow us to reach out to local business with early information on requirements and business opportunities. WRE is also fully supportive of the training and housing initiatives being progressed by the Association. To learn more please visit Advance WNW

Environmental

It is recognised globally that renewable energy projects like the Whaleback Ridge Renewable Energy Project are needed to contribute to the transition away from fossil fuels and to conserve biodiversity from the most catastrophic loss that will occur from the effects of climate change (IUCN, 2021).

This transition should minimise environmental harm and contribute to nature conservation. In line with this, significant effort has been undertaken to conduct natural values surveys early and select and refine a site that presents a low risk of environmental impact. This process will continue with final project infrastructure siting to be informed by detailed onsite assessments to both understand and mitigate potential impacts.

Opportunities to Enhance Reserve Objectives

The Project is primarily on reserved land that is managed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service. This provides an opportunity for the Project to collaborate with land managers on the protection and management of recognised values within and adjacent to the project site.

Examples of this include opportunities for the project to contribute to increased resourcing available for cooperative management of the coastal areas that have cultural heritage significance, as well as the natural values of the temperate rainforest and environmental values in the vicinity of the Project. WRE plan to explore these opportunities alongside community and stakeholder consultation as part of a collaborative “place-based design process.”