While rummaging around the internet to see if I could find any information on the performance of wind farms in Queensland (and especially in Far North Queensland – Andrew Blakers’ supposed panacea for the rather more correlated wind farm outputs in the NEM area), I came across Thursday Island, which installed a small two turbine wind farm 20 years ago. Thursday Island is about as FNQ as you can get – about 25 miles into the Torres Strait that separates Australia and Papua New Guinea. The bonanza came when I encountered a pamphlet from Harwell complete with charts showing monthly performance of the wind farm and its contribution to local power demand.
Figure 1: Thursday Island wind generation and percentage contribution to power demand
Digitising the plot allowed monthly demand to be estimated by dividing wind generation by its percentage contribution, as well as showing the highly seasonal nature of generation with almost no wind during the “Doldrums” summer months. The twin turbines have a total capacity of 450kW, and produced 1,680MWh, for a very respectable average capacity factor of 42.6% – somewhat above the projections of 36% made on the basis of a 5 year study of wind speeds. This pattern is not untypical, as this chart of monthly average wind speeds from the study shows:
Demand shows a peak in the hot summer months – precisely when wind is in the Doldrums. It is therefore no surprise to find that the pair of wind turbines were sized to provide under 10% of the island’s annual demand of about 18.5GWh – aside from there not being a great deal of space on the island anyway, with much of the area already taken by housing. The rest of the generation is of course diesel powered.
Figure 3: Power demand, derived from Figure 1
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…