According to reports, Indian wind-power company Suzlon Energy is planning a $1.3 billion project in regional South Australia to power 225,000 homes a year.
Outgoing Premier Mike Rann met with the company, the biggest wind-turbine supplier in India and the world’s fifth-largest, during a trade trip earlier this month when he told Indian media that Suzlon had “really been helping us in generating wind power”.
Mr Rann refused to discuss the major project with The Australian yesterday.
A spokesman for the Premier said there was a “media announcement strategy” in place with another news outlet.
However, following further inquiries, Suzlon Energy Australia chief executive Dan Hansen revealed the planned “Ceres Project” was initiated by farmers and developers on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula.
Mr Hansen said the state’s largest wind farm would be built about 20km southwest of the Yorke Peninsula town of Ardrossan and incorporate up to 180 turbines with a generating capacity of up to 600MW.
This comes after The Australian yesterday revealed new regulations introduced by the Coalition government in Victoria had put wind-farm developments at risk and threatened to redirect investment to other states such as South Australia.
Under the new Victorian guidelines, residents have veto power over turbines within 2km of their homes, and turbines have been banned within 5km of major regional towns and from scenic areas.
Yorke Peninsula Mayor Ray Agnew yesterday said the local council knew nothing about the Suzlon proposal. “We have a confidential briefing scheduled for a council workshop tomorrow night — that’s all we know.
“I know a former councillor, John McFarlane, is very involved. No one has spoken to us at this stage, but we welcome the investment,” Mr Agnew said.
The proposal would see wind-generated energy fed directly into metropolitan Adelaide.
The project will involve developing a high-voltage direct-current submarine connection across Gulf St Vincent.
Suzlon also wants to construct an “integrated pilot power plant that would convert biomass resources into energy” to feed into the state’s power supply.
Mr McFarlane, who owns land in the area of the proposed development, has been pushing the project and had sought a major partner.
Mr Hansen said businesses, landowners, local developers, government and residents on the Yorke Peninsula would be invited to contribute to the development of pre-feasibility studies.
“Suzlon intends to obtain approvals for the selected projects, including any demonstration-scale pilot plant,” Mr Hansen said.
“The Ceres Project will create local jobs, place the region on the global map as a leader in renewable technology and give Yorke Peninsula farmers and landowners the opportunity to diversify their income streams.”
He said a comprehensive community engagement and environmental assessment program was being developed.