Tasmania’s biggest wind farm has officially opened following a two-year construction period.

On Wednesday, state Premier Lara Giddings officially opened the $394 million Mussleroe Wind Farm in Tasmania’s northeast, which at 168 megawatts has sufficient capacity to supply up to 50,000 homes – equivalent to the residential power needs of Devonport and Burnie combined.

Set to be operated under a joint venture between Hydro Tasmania and Shenhua Clean Energy, the new farm has a planned operational life of 25 years.

Construction began in December 2011 and the first electricity was generated into the Tasmanian grid in April 2013, with the full 56 turbines progressively coming online since that time.

Despite its distance from mainland Australian markets, proximity to the reliable ‘Roaring 40s’ and a high percentage of power generation from hydro (which is complementary to wind energy as hydro power can be switched off and water conserved when the wind blows) has seen considerable investment in wind power generation throughout Tasmania.

In addition to Musselroe, Hydro Tasmania is currently undertaking feasibility assessments with regard to its massive TasWind project – a 2,400 gigawatt per hour facility which would cost around $2 billion to build and would represent the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

Hydro Tasmania chairman David Crean welcomed the completion of the project, which he said complemented Hydro’s capability and provided the renewable energy certificates necessary for the organisation to meet retail obligations while generating profit and value for its shareholders, the Tasmanian people.

Crean paid homage to Australia’s renewable energy target (RET) policy, which he said provided the necessary impetus for renewable energy investment.

“The Musselroe project has only been made possible because of the national renewable energy target (RET), which began in 2001 under the Howard Government and has been supported by successive federal governments since,” he said.

“The RET is a key driver for investment in wind farms as well as for the refurbishment and upgrade of our existing hydro plant. Its continuation will support investment and job creation throughout rural and regional Tasmania and Australia, as well as contributing to energy security and greenhouse gas abatement in the Australian energy sector.”

Around 200 jobs were generated throughout the construction period.

Musselroe Wind Farm