WBHO Infrastructure (WBHO-I) has set its sights on a series of renewable energy projects, part of the company’s strategic plan to expand its business and diversify its core capabilities in Australia.
David McPadden, Executive General Manager Eastern Region, said WBHO-I had a strong track record in the renewable energy sector, having successfully delivered balance of plant (BOP) infrastructure on some of the largest renewable energy projects in the country.
“The renewable energy sector is experiencing unprecedented activity in Australia,” he said. “Civil, mechanical and electrical BOP are core competencies for WBHO-I. We have delivered access roads, hardstands, turbine foundations, 33kV electrical reticulation, substations, overhead power lines, and operation and maintenance buildings for a range of wind and solar facilities. Our experience and capability means we consistently meet – and in many cases, exceed – program milestones, allowing our clients to begin commercial operations sooner than expected.”
WBHO-I delivered all civil, mechanical and electrical BOP for the largest operating solar farm in the country, the 230MW Nyngan Solar Farm in New South Wales, and also provided BOP for the first utility-scale solar photo-voltaic project in Australia, the Greenough River Solar Farm. In Victoria, WBHO-I completed civil BOP for Acciona Energy’s 132MW 44-turbine Mount Gellibrand Wind Farm ahead of schedule, facilitating early commissioning and generation of power, and was also part of a joint venture that delivered civil BOP for Pacific Hydro’s 29MW 14-turbine Yaloak South Wind Farm, the scope of work staged to allow early energisation of collector groups.
Currently in western Victoria, the SNC-Lavalin/WBHO-I Joint Venture is working to deliver civil and electrical BOP for Goldwind’s 530MW 149-turbine Stockyard Hill Wind Farm – the largest wind farm in Australia. The scope of work includes construction of anchored foundations and commissioning of 149 wind turbine generators, six measurement towers, 100 kilometres of internal access roads, 129 kilometres of cable trenching and 10km of 33KV overhead power lines. Three substations are being constructed concurrently to facilitate the installation of four transformers and associated buildings.
The project team has maintained an exceptional safety record to date, working 600,000 hours LTI-free, and successfully maintained program despite a series of extreme rain events. Project Manager Brent Lindeback said careful planning and quality pavement design had been fundamental to the project’s success to date. “To deliver these projects on time, a quality internal road network is an absolute priority,” he said. “Concrete pours for turbine foundations, turbine deliveries, transformer deliveries – none of it is possible without quality pavement in place.”
“We took the time to develop a detailed understanding of the geology supporting our proposed pavement and we worked closely with the design team, challenging the pavement design every step of the way. It paid off – the pavement has performed extremely well and we’ve been able to complete all of our activities and deliveries across the site as planned, despite the extreme weather. In fact, we are on schedule to pour the last of 149 wind turbine foundations next month – a major milestone for the project.”
To deliver the works at Stockyard Hill, Brent and his team have installed three concrete batching plants, conducted an extensive drill and blast operation for 600,000 tonne of onsite quarry product and installed crushing and screening facilities, overburden and top soil storage areas. A 2.1 megalitre water storage dam was installed to ensure optimum moisture content in quarry product, maximising productivity and minimising the amount of potable water used in construction.
Consistent with WBHO-I’s reputation for quality of service and innovative solutions, Brent and his team have also worked to identify a series of design changes that delivered time and cost savings for the client. By optimising the internal access road design, the team was able to eliminate 8.5km of pavement while an alternative footing design reduced the amount of concrete and steel required on the project. Similarly, an innovative anchored foundation design minimised construction waste and will require less maintenance in future, compared to traditional anchored footings.
The team has also supported relationships with 35 private landowners and worked closely with Pyrenees Shire Council to plan 20km of external road upgrades surrounding the new wind farm. “Rather than waiting until the end of the project to complete the external road upgrades, we worked collaboratively with the local council to begin the work early, ensuring the roads were suitable for construction and local traffic,” said Brent. “It’s a win for everyone – the local community, the council and the project.”
Local industry participation and local jobs have been a significant focus on the project, with the majority of equipment and materials sourced from Australian companies – more than 85% from within Victoria and the local area. “We’ve developed a really strong network of local suppliers and subcontractors in Victoria’s Central Highlands region,” said Brent. “For example DE Quarries from Skipton managed our on-site crushing operation, with additional product supplied from their private quarry. Grampians Excavation from Stawell provided plant and plant operators for our civil operations, and Toohey’s Formwork from Ballarat constructed the concrete turbine foundations. Through these subcontractors and many others, we’ve been able to connect local people with jobs on the project, benefitting the local region and local communities.”