Bluff Point Wind Farm_Stairs to enter the turbine

About renewable energy

Hydro Tasmania mainly generates electricity from water (hydropower) and wind.  

Both types are generated mechanically, through moving parts. In our generators, huge magnets are turned inside massive coils of wire, creating an electric current.

The magnets are turned by a turbine, and the turbine is turned by the force of either water or wind.   

Because the force turning the turbines doesn't get depleted when its used (i.e. the water returns to the lakes and rivers, and the wind keeps on blowing), it's called renewable energy. 

The difference between wind power and hydropower

Hydropower uses a large amount of water, which flows down pipes into a power station. Gravity pushes the water down the pipes or canals at high pressure - forcing the turbine to turn and generate electricity.

In wind power, the wind spins the turbine blades, which in turn, spins the magnet. In Tasmania, we're fortunate to have wind from the roaring 40s - prevailing westerly winds that circle the Earth’s high southern latitudes. 

The basics for water and wind power are similar. But there are some important differences:

  • Hydropower is consistent, but wind speed varies. To cope with changing wind speed, each wind turbine has a gearbox, brakes and an anemometer. The anemometer measures wind direction and speed, while the gearbox adjusts the axle speed to ensure the generator works efficiently. If the wind is too strong, the brakes stop the blades from turning.

  • Wind direction changes. When generating energy from water, it is directed down pipes to a turbine. For wind power, the turbine needs to move to capture the wind. A nacelle (which is the ‘box’ on top of the tower) contains the generator, gearbox, brakes and anemometer, and holds the blades in place. To capture energy from the wind, the whole nacelle turns to face the direction of the wind.

  • Size of generators. In hydropower stations, there are generally fewer and larger turbines.  Wind turbines tend to be smaller. For example, Hydro Tasmania’s turbines at the Gordon Power Station have a generating capacity of 150 megawatts, and there are three of them. At the Bluff Point Wind Farm the turbines are 1.75 MW, and there are 37 of them.