A windmill is an agricultural machinery, like a tractor, that turns wind to power.
But there is another form of windmill.
In western New South-Wales, there are windmillers, a breed of windmills that turn wind to electricity.
And a new one is being built.
The new windmill, a prototype of which was unveiled in November, is being developed in the state’s small farming community, called Western Meadowlarks.
It is not the first windmill to be built in New South Wales, but it is one of the first that has been in operation for more than five years.
The Western Meadows windmill has an initial operating capacity of 15 MW, and is expected to have an operating capacity in excess of 50 MW by the end of 2020.
Western Meadelarks is one in a number of communities in the New South West that are also seeking to develop windmilling as an alternative to farming.
The Meadowlands windfarm, built in 2016, is the second windfarm built in the region, following the first in 2016.
The community has been developing windmowers since at least 2011, but only recently began to produce power.
“We’ve been working on windmower development for the last 10 years,” says Tom Bancroft, an apprentice windmill builder in the community.
“But until now, nobody’s been able to do it on a scale that they could actually make a profit off.”
The Meadows have been working with windfarm developer Renewable Power, a partnership of the NSW government, the National Energy Board, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and a consortium of local industry.
Renewable power has been investing in windmill projects in Western Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, and the state is expected in the next three years to become the first jurisdiction in the country to make windmilled power available to the grid.
“Windmowers are very affordable and they’re very easy to build,” says John Lister, a Renewable energy executive with the Australian Wind Energy Association.
“They’re a little bit more of a hobby than something that can be a major part of your life, but when you need it, it’s something that’s a bit of a luxury.”
Renewable has invested more than $400,000 in the project, and hopes to have the first commercial windmiller in operation by the middle of next year.
“The first windmotor will be a bit over three metres in length,” says Bancrosft.
“And then you’ve got the wind turbine and you’ve also got the fuel tank, so it’s a really, really nice package.”
The windmill was constructed in partnership with Renewable, which has been working in the rural community for several years.
It was also designed by a local firm called Nuffield and is a collaborative effort between Nuffielding and the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage.
“There are no barriers for them to come and do their job,” says Andrew Nuffesson, the windmiler and wind farm project manager.
“When we came here, we just started with a few small pieces of wood, but now we’ve been able come up with a whole set of components.”
A prototype of the windmill with the turbine at its base.
“It was a bit intimidating, but we found that everyone who’s been involved in this community, whether it’s windmiers or anyone, is a bit more comfortable with the tools than most people,” he says.
“I think we’ve built a really strong relationship here.”
It took the NSW Government nearly two years to finalise the site.
The first phase of the project took six months to design and build, with a further six months spent finalising the design.
“This is the first one that we’ve actually done in the field,” says Nuffesse, adding that the team was able to finish the site by the beginning of March.
“So, there’s still quite a bit to go, but I think that it will be done in a matter of months.”
Construction work is ongoing, and when it’s completed in the spring, the first turbines will be ready to go.
“Once the first turbine is operational, we’re going to be able to have it running from about April through May, but there will be some maintenance on the site before then,” says Lister.
“Then we’re just going to need to make sure it works before the wind turbines are operational, but then it’s not really an issue.”
Renewables chief executive officer Tom Bischoff says the windfarm will also be the first of its kind in the entire state.
“By the time the wind farms come in we’ll be producing about 10,000 tonnes of wind energy,” he said.
“You have to understand that the wind energy that we’re producing, is about three times what we’re used to producing, and that will have