Australian Wind Alliance

How much power does a wind farm make?

Capital_strongclouds.jpgPeople do say stupid stuff about wind farms. Sometimes it's just wilful ignorance but also, the scale of what wind farms generate is not always clear.

A friend recently had someone say to her 'Those things wouldn't even power Bungendore. They don't actually make that much power.' "How do I answer him?" she asked.

For the readers' benefit, Bungendore is a sweet little town just out of Canberra. and the 'things' the questioner was referring to is the Capital and Woodlawn Wind Farms, on the shore of Lake George.

In the interests of demonstrating just how much energy wind farms put out, here's my answer:

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Tuesday 7th June 2016

The short version is that these wind farms have powered Bungendore about 150 times over the last 24 hours.

Below is what the wind farms have been producing for the last 24 hours. (Note that while we can see 90 turbines, 67 are part of Capital Wind Farm and the other 23 are Woodlawn WF. Capital is orange on the graphs and Woodlawn is pink. Charts courtesy of anero.id.au)

The first graph is the amount of power they are producing (output), and the 2nd is the % of their total capacity they're producing. Because it's been really blowy, they're both producing near their limit at about 90 - 100% (that's their capacity factor).

Output and Capacity Factor for Capital and Woodlawn Wind Farms (6th & 7th June 2016)
ScreenHunter_03_Jun._07_10.26.jpg ScreenHunter_04_Jun._07_10.28.jpg

So across this 24 hour period, they've produced an average of around 130 and 40 megawatt hours respectively every hour, for a total of 170 megawatts (that's 170,000 kilowatts). A kilowatt (about the amount used by a small vacuum cleaner) produced for an hour is a kilowatt hour. So, that's 170,000 x 24 = 4,080,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) for the day.

An average house uses 19 kilowatt hours per day. Bungendore had around 1,000 houses in 2011. It's grown a bit since then so let's be generous and say it's 1,500 now, so you'd expect they'd use a total of 28,500 kwh per day. Out of a total of 4,080,000 kwh.

In other words, they've powered Bungendore around 150 times over in the last 24 hours.

So yes, they rather do produce enough to power Bungendore. And Goulburn, and most of Canberra. In total, these two wind farms alone power around 214,000 homes when they're going flat out. On average across the year they power around 78,000 homes.

But in terms of Bungendore, they would power all 1500 homes in Bungers if they were running at just 1% of total capacity, ie if they were barely running.

Bungendore is the first place the power would go as it's closest to the power source so effectively, whenever there are turbines turning, Bungendore is being completely powered by wind energy.


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