SWAYING in the breeze 80 metres above the ground, Collgar Wind Farm technicians expertly guided the 44-metre long wind turbine blades into place and bolted them onto the tower.
This achievement last Thursday marked the successful completion of the first out of 111 wind turbines to be erected at the wind farm.
Just one year since the first ground works started at the Collgar site, the wind farm has progressed to the milestone of its first turbine being erected, two months ahead of schedule.
Wind Farm chief executive Alistair Craib said the team was pleased with the achievement.
“We were forecasting to put the first turbine up towards the end of the year or the beginning of next year, so the fact that we could get a turbine up in November is just fantastic,” he said.
He said from now on, the turbines would continue to be put up at a rate of about three or four per week, weather permitting.
“At 80 metres plus in the air, it’s very hazardous and safety is of critical importance,” Mr Craib said.
“Ironically for a project that relies on wind, windy days can really slow down the construction process.”
To construct each turbine requires a crane, a team of men pulling cables on the ground and a team of technicians harnessed to the tower.
They must first piece together the three tower sections, then attach the nacelle, which is the central hub containing the generator, after which each of the three blades must be carefully shimmied into their sockets.
It takes about one day to erect each turbine, because getting each piece into place requires a high level of precision to a matter of millimetres.
A special 96-metre mobile crane had to be brought in from overseas to erect the turbines.
The first lot of turbines will start generating power in about June next year, when Western Power completes its substation and connects it to the power line to allow power to be fed into the South West Interconnected System grid.
The wind farm is planned to be officially opened in April, 2012.
When completed there will be 111 turbines spread over numerous farming properties covering 126 square kilometres, with a generational capacity of 206 megawatts.
At its full capacity, the wind farm will generate enough power to supply 125,000 average WA households per year and Synergy has signed a 15-year contract to buy the power generated.
The first turbine was constructed on Brian Johnson’s property North of Bullshead Road and is not easily visible from the road.
Mr Craib said official events would be held to display the turbines to the public and for safety reasons, members of the public are discouraged from carrying out their own sightseeing drives on roads around the wind farm.