A small town on the south coast of Western Australia has proven that it’s possible to dream big when it comes to renewable energy, ABC News reports.
Denmark — located roughly 400km from Perth and with a population of fewer than 3,000 residents — is home to one of only two community-owned wind farms in Australia.
The two 50m-high turbines that stand proudly on a headland overlooking the Southern Ocean supply a little over half of the town’s domestic energy requirements.
“Denmark’s always been a ‘green’ town, and it’s ideally situated on a very high energy coastline,” said Craig Chapelle, one of the wind farm directors.
“We went to the community and asked, ‘Do you think we should produce our own energy?’ and the consensus was ‘yes’.
“The only question was what form it should take and — if you know Denmark — you’ll know sun isn’t our strong suit but wind, we’ve got plenty of that.”
The project was given the green light in 2003 and was on course to become Australia’s first community-owned wind farm, had it not been for what Mr Chappelle describes as “bureaucratic stonewalling”.
By the time the turbines were built and began operating seven years ago, another community wind farm in Hepburn, Victoria, had beaten them to the chase.
Mr Chappelle said the Denmark wind farm paid a dividend back to its 116 shareholders in its the first year and had done every year since.
“The investors are getting a very good rate of return on their investment, and the project has a life expectancy of around 20 to 21 years,” he said.
The Denmark wind farm serves as a model for community-owned renewable energy projects in Australia, but so far there is only one other in Hepburn, Victoria.(Supplied: Simon Neville)