South Australia’s largest wind farm has turned to Whyalla manufacturers to help power its turbines.
The wind tower project is a collaboration between the state government, global technology company Siemens, which is building the wind farm and local manufacturer E&A Contractors.
The first locally-built tower for the Snowtown II wind farm is near completion at the E&A Whyalla plant.
The state government contributed $2 million towards upgrading the E&A Whyalla plant, which led to the company securing the project.
Premier Jay Weatherill, who toured the E&A plant last week said the project demonstrated South Australia’s ability to participate in major technically complex projects using local capabilities.
“This is a great example of how we can make things locally for major projects, working in collaboration with local companies like Siemens,” Mr Weatherill said.
“About 20 of the 90 towers for the Snowtown II wind farm are being made here at E&A Contractors in Whyalla and I am pleased to be commissioning the first one today.
“The project is supporting our economy with 120 local jobs and it is a great vote of confidence in our advanced manufacturing capabilities.”
Mr Weatherill spoke of Whyalla and the manufacturing renaissance that this project could bring to the city and other regional towns in South Australia.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for towns like this that have had such a strong manufacturing past to actually have an advanced manufacturing future,” Mr Weatherill said.
“Looking at technologies of the futures such as renewable energy gives us a fantastic set of opportunities for people to be able to work in interesting, well-paid , sustainable jobs.”
Mr Weatherill also brought to light the opportunity for previously shelved projects to be able to possibly make a return as a result of this wind farm win.
“It provides lots of opportunities for those renewable technologies to be pursued in towns like Whyalla and the other Upper Spencer Gulf cities.”
Mr Weatherill said projects like this would help South Australia diversify into new industries.
He said South Australia’s future was as a mining services hub and all the related industries that entails, including renewable energy.
“We think that we can service not only the mines in Australia but mines all around the world and there is some evidence that we’re already doing that with some fantastic mining services companies here,” Mr Weatherill said.
“People can live here in South Australia and also travel to other places to do business.
“So our relative livability is another key strength for us.”
In total, South Australia’s support of wind farms has led to about $3 billion capital investment in the state, which has translated to more than 800 direct jobs.
Siemens chief executive officer Jeff Connolly said that Siemens set a high quality standard for all supply elements in such projects.
“It is extremely pleasing that E&A Contractors have been able to prequalify for this type of work,” Mr Connelly said.
“It’s a great outcome for Australian manufacturing.”
Mr Connelly said with the desire of project companies to support the development of local companies, and through the right sort of Government assistance, local manufacturing can be an integral part of major projects.
“I congratulate the South Australian government for their determination and E&A for taking on such a technically complex project.,” Mr Connelly said.
“And we look forward to continuing our pipeline of projects to consolidate and expand the expertise gained on successfully establishing local manufacturing capability.”
Construction of the $439 million Snowtown II wind farm commenced in October 2012 and will be completed and operational by the end of 2014.
The Snowtown II wind farm will be South Australia’s largest wind farm, generating enough electricity to power 180,000 homes.