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Wind at the back of booming new sector

At Iron Capital, we have a number of clients that span many different industries across Australia. One that’s gaining traction over recent years is the wind farm sector.

With contracts and gear on the ground at 10 wind farm projects in the country, we caught up with the Managing director of Fletcher Bros. Solutions, Malcolm Fletcher, to get his take on the industry and the opportunities it presents for the earthmoving sector.

“There’s been an initial shift in government initiatives in recent years and a push to develop renewable infrastructure to meet Australia’s renewable energy targets,” Malcolm said.

“Private investment is also driving the sector, as investors seek to cash in on the profitability of clean energy infrastructure.

“In Australia, there’s currently 28 large-scale wind farms that are under construction or financially committed to. Together, these projects are generating 4200 peak construction jobs.

“In 2019, wind energy overtook hydro as Australia’s leading renewable energy source, accounting for more than 35 per cent of renewable energy generation and 8.5 per cent overall.”

Malcolm added that the appealing energy source is only going to continue to grow, with hotspots beginning to emerge in New South Wales, and Southern Queensland.

“Typically, Western Victoria has housed a lot of the wind farm activity, but developers are beginning to recognise opportunities in other states where the environment is ripe and there’s decreased competition,” he said.

In Victoria, there’s currently 29 of wind farms in operation, with another eight under construction. Of those eight, Goldwind Australia’s 532MW Stockyard Hill will become the largest wind farm in the country, generating enough renewable energy to power 425,000 homes once completed.

In New South Wales, the development of a new energy zone in the New England region is setting the state up for a rapid transition from coal to renewables. The zone will have the capacity to power more than 3.5 million homes, positioning the state attractively for renewable energy investment.

While the environment in these regions might provide solid ground for a wind farm, energy grids can provide a barrier for development.

“Where a wind farm might suit a particular area, transmission lines also need to be up to scratch and developers need to ensure the grid can handle the energy input,” said Malcolm.

“For some locations, this may mean that the grid also needs to be upgraded before the land can be used.”

But for Fletcher Bros, Malcolm suggests there’s plenty of dirt to be dug. From completing bulk earthworks, excavating the foundations for the wind turbines, developing crane pads to install the wind turbine, and building tracks to get there, there’s a mountain of work on projects like these for Iron Capital machines.

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