Wind turbine model, plastic / aluminium / wood, maker unknown, made for Great Southern Energy and Pacific Power, Crookwell, New South Wales, Australia, 1998
The model represents mainstream wind turbine technology, the worldwide move towards increased use of renewable energy, and the process of community consultation that takes place before a wind farm is developed.
Many designs of wind turbine have been trialled, and the horizontal axis type has proven most efficient. Different blade profiles have been trialled, as have different numbers of blades. The model represents the design that was most common at the turn of the twentieth century: horizontal axis, with three blades, a wind sensor and computer-controlled motor to turn the nacelle so the blades face the wind, and a gearbox and electricity generator within the nacelle.
While windmills and small wind turbines have long been used in Australia, particularly on rural properties, the move to larger-scale wind power generation only began in the late 1980s, lagging behind the USA, Europe, India and China. The horizontal axis turbine was the main design employed, and the Danish company Vestas was one of the major manufacturers. The model represents a Vestas turbine with maximum output of 600 kW, blades 22 metres long, and tower 45 metres tall.
In 1998 eight of these turbines were installed on a property owned by grazier Hazel Seaman near the NSW town of Crookwell, creating the first grid-connected wind farm in Australia. Seaman was paid rent for this use of her land, but her main motivation was that she was paving the way for future increased availability of clean renewable energy.
In many areas where wind turbines have been installed, objections have been raised, based on their visual impact, the noise they make, and the danger they pose to birds and bats which fly too close to them. Locations are selected not just for consistent wind, but also to reduce these impacts, for example remote from homes and away from flight paths of certain birds. The model was made so Seaman's neighbours could visualise the turbines planned to be installed on her property; the project went ahead, but there were objections from neighbours in 2004 when a second wind farm was proposed for the Crookwell area.
Debbie Rudder, Curator, 2006
It is not known who made the model. It represents turbines made by Vestas, a major wind turbine manufacturer headquartered in Denmark.
In 1998 the model was used by electricity retailer Great Southern Energy and generator Pacific Power to enable residents of Crookwell to visualise the eight turbines, each rated at 600 kW, that were planned to be installed on a local property owned by grazier Hazel Seaman.
In 1999 the model was lent to the Museum for display as a working object in 'Engineering Excellence', an annually changing section of the long-term 'Success and Innovation' exhibition. The Crookwell wind farm had been highly commended in the Environment category of the 1998 Engineering Excellence award scheme conducted by the Sydney Division of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.
In 2001 the model was placed on working display in the Museum's long-term exhibition 'Ecologic: creating a sustainable future' along with full-size objects and models representing a range of energy-generation and energy-efficient technologies.
When Pacific Power ceased to exist in January 2000, ownership of the model was transferred to Eraring Energy, which continued the loan agreement and later donated it to the Museum.