PROFESSOR: Authorities must spend up to avoid powerline risk
A FORMER University of Queensland professor has called on authorities to practise "prudent avoidance” when deciding on the final design for power lines connecting the Warwick Solar Farm to the substation.
Current designs will see an extension of two existing Ergon Energy power lines to the solar farm site.
But the professor said the principle of prudent avoidance meant developers must consider spending additional money to negate potential risks.
"The work that had been done by the Scandinavians identified a statistical link between population living near power lines where the electromagnetic fields (EMF) were very low, less than 4 milliGauss,” the academic said.
"But even then they found that there was a statistical likelihood of children developing childhood leukemia.”
The professor said although no causal link had been proven, Ergon Energy, Terrain Solar, the University of Queensland and road authorities should consider alternatives to running power lines in close proximity to residential homes and bus routes in Sladevale.
"This means that you should be prepared to spend an amount of additional money, in my view another 5 million or so, and look at options to take the power lines away from places where the public will be, particularly houses where people live all the time,” he said.
"In this case we are dealing with a major power station and the proposed power lines are to use very high current of around 550 Amps and quite low poles around seven meters high or less.”
A spokeswoman for the University of Queensland said expert consulting engineers had been engaged to model and assess potential EMF levels against relevant international standards as well as guidelines produced by the Australian Energy Networks Association.
"No concerns have been identified from this modelling and there is no need for further review,” she said.
Professor Tapan Saha, leader of UQ's Power and Energy Systems Research Group, also reviewed the project's connection arrangement including potential EMF impacts.
He rejected the suggestion that the proposed infrastructure presents any risk to the surrounding community.
"The modelling shows that at ground level the power lines will have a maximum magnetic field of around 6 milliGauss,” Professor Saha said.
"This compares to the international guideline limits of 2000 milliGauss and common household appliances like personal computers that have been measured to produce around 5 milliGauss.”