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Ararat Wind Farm fully commissioned, supplying power to Victoria and ACT

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The recently completed 240MW Ararat Wind Farm in south-western Victoria is now operating at full capacity, feeding enough renewable energy into the grid to power 120,000 homes, 37,000 of them in Canberra.

The wind farm, which is operated and managed by Canberra-based company Windlab, was fully commissioned on Wednesday this week, after several years in the works. It first began sending power to the grid in Victoria in August 2016. This graph below, from the Energy and Climate College, shows how it has expanded production.

ararat copyThe project gained significance as the first wind farm to be contracted after the reinstatement of a bipartisan federal renewable energy target – that is, after the Coalition and Labor agreed to cut the RET to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh).

In Ararat’s case, the go-ahead was buoyed by the signing of a power purchase agreement with the ACT government, which guaranteed the purchase of approximately 40 per cent of its annual output – a contract it is now delivering on.

“The ACT’s agreement with the Ararat Wind Farm provided certainty for investors and enabled construction to commence in late 2015,” ACT climate minister Shane Rattenbury said on Wednesday.

“This is good news for consumers as well as climate change mitigation, as the ACT government has locked-in a set price for the renewable electricity produced by 10 wind and solar projects, including Ararat, for the next 20 years.”AWF-Blade-Assembly-176-1-329x500

Rattenbury – whose predecessor, Simon Corbell, is widely regarded as the mastermind of the nation-leading renewables policy – said that the Capital was showing the federal government how to deliver on clean energy.

“If the generators make more money than the set price for the electricity they sell into the national electricity market, they pay the difference back to the ACT,” Rattenbury said.

Ararat Mayor, Paul Hooper, described the wind farm as a “really significant” project for the city, bringing $450 million of investment, 350 jobs at its construction peak, and more than $40 million into the local economy during construction, which lasted about 18 months.

“It was completed on time and to a very high standard,” Hooper said, adding that project developer RES Australia had been “…very, very good corporate citizens” throughout the development.  

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  • Kevan Daly

    Is there something wrong with the numbers? Rated at 240 MW and producing 272 GWh per annum? That’s a capacity factor of 12.9%. Perhaps the 272GWh is a partial or ramp up year.

    • GregX

      Hi Kevan, where did you get the 272GWh figure from as I can’t see it in the article? In any case, 12.9% does seem very low. I’d love to know the basis of the rental payment system to the landowners and if this extended in part to any visually or auditory affected neighbours to negate any potential local opposition.

      • Kevan Daly

        You’re right; it’s not there now. In fact the whole article is quite a bit shorter. Ho-hum …

      • OnionMan77

        Dear TrollX
        A: The numbers* are 4.9 MWh x 120,000 equals 588 GWh per annum. A capacity figure of 28%.*
        B: “In operation the wind farm will not exceed 40dBA which equates to the amount of noise in a library. Bird calls are 44dBA.”
        I reckon the cost of a bag of bird seed to attract the cockatoos should cover the excruciating auditory pain of squeaking windmills. /s
        Citation: http://www.ararat-windfarm.com/
        *Taken from awf-infographic with corrected 4900 kWh per household

        • GregX

          Hi OnionMan77, my mistake, I’m actually for the windfarm as my other posts will most certainly attest. Re-reading my earlier post I should have been more clear on my intentions as it does look troll-worthy on reflection. No issue regarding the capacity figure as it was obviously wrong and all I was trying to do was to find the correct answer for Kevan. Regarding the rental payments, all I was trying to find out was why this project has had such little local opposition which is fantastic. Opposition to earlier wind farms, other than by PM’s and Treasurer’s, tended to be from landowners adjacent to the properties that had the actual tower and got the rent. This tended to exacerbate the issues of these adjacent landowners who missed out on the rent. I was just trying to find out what they did in this particular case as I could not find any details via Google searches.

    • David Osmond

      This article from 2015 also mentions 271 GWh/yr, but it is only for the 80.5MW that is contracted with the ACT Government. So that represents a capacity factor of 38%

      http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/simon-corbell-reveals-wind-farm-auction-winners-to-supply-third-of-canberras-electricity-needs-20150204-136my6.html

  • Nick Thiwerspoon

    What interests me about the chart is that even two hours of storage would produce a far smoother output. What I mean is that, assuming the chart is hourly, 2 hours of storage would be the equivalent mathematically of a two period moving average (longer if the data are by 5 minute itervals) If you applied such a moving average to the raw data in the chart, you’d get a much smoother profile.

  • Just_Chris

    This is really interesting from a cost perspective. Basically ACT get money back if the average price of grid electricity is higher than the agreed price and lose if the price higher than the grid – game on. It’ll be a hard sell by the fossil lobby if ACT are getting money sent to them every year as I assume that will mean wind + solar – fossil grid backup = less than business as usual.