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Goldwind to build 144MW wind farm in Tasmania

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Tasmania’s plans to become Australia’s “renewable energy battery” have been given a leg-up this week with the announcement of a new $300 million, 144MW wind farm to be built in the state’s central highlands, and hints of more to follow.

The 49-turbine Wild Cattle Hill wind farm will be built by wind farm developer Goldwind Australia, as part of an in-principle agreement with state-owned power retailer Aurora Energy that promises to boost the state’s wind power capacity by almost 50 per cent. It will boost the island state’s wind capacity by nearly 50 per cent.

gullen range_3

In a joint statement, Aurora and Goldwind said that construction of the wind farm would begin in September, employing 150, while about 10 permanent staff would maintain the facility once fully operational in 2020.

Aurora Energy CEO Rebecca Kardos said the energy retailer was pleased to be partnering with a Tasmanian project of such significance.

“We strongly support the development of further renewable energy in Tasmania, and this project will help strengthen Tasmania’s energy security,” Kardos said.

The Tasmanian government also hailed the announcement, and suggested it would soon be followed by another major wind farm at Granville Harbour, on the state’s west coast.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on the building momentum for more renewable energy generation and the Hodgman Government is seizing it,” said state energy minister Matthew Groom.

“I hope to have more to say shortly about an exciting proposal for Granville Harbour.”

It has been suggested that the increased wind generation, on top of existing wind farms in the north-east and north-west, will strengthen the case for a second power interconnector cable under Bass Strait, to allow exports of energy from the island interstate.

Interestingly, Goldwind said in comments last year that its Cattle Hill Wind Farm was “one project that (would) benefit from greater interconnectivity.”

“Whilst Cattle Hill is one of the most advanced projects in Tasmania,” the company said in June 2016, “independent analysis shows that many other Tasmanian projects could be realised with a second interconnector to the mainland.”

In comments on Wednesday, Goldwind Australia managing director Jonh Titchen said the company was “particularly excited to have reached this stage of the project given our long interest indeveloping a project of this nature in Tasmania.”

The China-based wind giant is currently also building the White Rock Wind Farm in the NSW New England region and last month bought the 530MW Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, in Victoria, in a record breaking deal off-take with Origin Energy.

And in the NSW Southern Tablelands, Goldwind is working on plans to add up to 12MW of solar power generation to its jointly owned Gullen Range wind farm.  

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  • George Darroch

    Western Tasmania is literally among the best places in the world for wind generation.

    • Charles

      True, I really don’t understand why offshore wind hasn’t been seriously investigated for the sea west of Tasmania!

      • George Darroch

        Why would they go offshore?

        • Charles

          The wind is just as strong, more space, less visible, fewer political issues.

          • George Darroch

            Considering that part of the state is mostly empty, there are fewer issues. Putting foundations in the Southern Ocean is expensive. And there’s more than enough wind on land.

          • Charles

            There may not be many living in the area, but a lot of it is protected or conservation areas – don’t underestimate the ability of a small number of Tasmanians protesting 🙁

          • George Darroch

            That’s definitely noted. Coming from NZ, where there is an excess of excellent resource, this opposition is quite a familiar prospect.

  • Jack Gilding

    Good news indeed but 144 MW on top of existing 307 MW (Woolnorth and Musselroe) is not double! Granville Harbour expected to be 99 MW.

  • Richard

    I hope the King Island wind farm is still under consideration. just needs a power cable and it would have the most economicly viable resource in Australia

  • Ian

    Australia is unique in that its easily developed renewable resources far exceed its energy consumption/ demand. Once the political brakes are released, in virtually no time there is a scramble to build generating capacity. The low cost of renewables, the generous LGC’s , the generally stable investment climate make for amazing renewables investment opportunities, but our market is easily saturated. To keep this renewables momentum going we need new markets for electricity and ways to store this bounty. As alluded to in this article, wind energy capacity will require a better Bass Strait link.

    The LGC’s offer a way to build storage capacity and should be linked to battery storage. eg, 1LGC entitlement requires 1MWH storage. – no storage on-site, no LGC.

  • Tom

    This is great news.

    It does not, however, strengthen the case for a second “Basslink”, even with a total of 550MW of wind capacity including Granville Harbour.

    Even in the 6-8 weeks per year when the run-of-the-river dams are all spilling, they are producing approx. 1500MW without trying. Tassie uses 1500MW during the day in winter, and about 1000MW at night. The existing Basslink capacity is 500MW. Therefore, if the dams are spilling and the wind is blowing flat-out adding another 550MW, there will be 2050MW being generated.

    Nothing will be wasted during the day, and some potential energy generation will be wasted at night. However, at night, even if there are forced sales over Basslink because of surplus energy in Tassie, the prices are usually cheap anyway (although not in the last 6 months). Given that Victoria has lots of wind generation capacity, the whole of SE Australia will probably have a surplus of power at these times. So whether or not this energy can be sold through Basslink it will not be worth much anyway.

    For the other 44-46 weeks per year, up to 1500MW of non-hydro renewable generation could be captured either on-island or via sales through Basslink, day and night. Anything that is being generated by wind would simply not be generated by hydro and saved for later.

    Yes, a second interconnector may mean a tiny bit more energy is able to be utilised, but it will not justify $1 billion dollars to build it. I’d think that $1 billion would buy Tassie a pretty damn good demand management system for hot water services and batteries – that’s $5000 per Tassie household, and any excess generation would be captured on-island.

    • Mike Shackleton

      Another HVDC line could interconnect with the proposed offshore windfarm off the coast of Gippsland Victoria. But you’re right, there are lots of creative options to explore in terms of energy storage as well.

    • Ian

      There’s an opportunity cost for large infrastructure development to be sure, but if $1 billion is not spent on the new Basslink will it be spent on developing Tasmania at all? Why give Tas households $5000 and not the rest of the mainland rabble?

      I would suggest another scheme that might keep this money in Tasmania but keep the rest of Australia on-side with such a massive spend. A large scale trial of subsidised EV in and only in Tasmania. The new car market in that state is only 1600 vehicles a month. Initiating a subsidy of $10 000 an EV to kick start the process with 6 monthly reviews. In the first year the cost would be $192 million max and given that each car would be driven on average 40km a day @200WH/km = 8KWH a day x 19200= 150 MWH of new load added a year and potentially (60-8) x 19200 = 1GWH of battery storage capacity. Tasmania is ideal for testing EV/ grid interchanges because maximum travel distances are small – one charge should get most EV right across the state. Renewable resources are very plentiful but the energy market is small a new load is needed and time shifting renewables generation can optimise the different energy sources. The overall market for New vehicles in Tasmania is small and manageable. There is a large barrier to interchange of vehicles out of that state.

    • Malcolm M

      Most of Tassie’s hydro stations are designed for a 90% capacity factor, which was great when the State was not connected to the mainland, and supporting 24/7 users such as the aluminium and zinc refining industries. But for integration with wind and as a peak load provider for the mainland, additional generators need to be built on existing dams. For example, the Reece Power station on the Pieman River was producing its full 200 MW for much of the high flow season in 2016, and was only just keeping ahead of the dam spilling. However if its generation capacity were doubled it could produce 400 MW for the 50% of time intervals with the highest power prices, and better integrate with Tassie wind production and peak load periods in Victoria.

      • Tom

        I’ve looked into this, and there’s not actually that much capacity to improve here.

        Firstly on “capacity factor” – most of our generators have a capacity factor of between 30% and 50%, with Tarraleah and Trevallyn slightly higher. This makes sense though – the big storages are hardly used in winter/spring, and the run-of-the-river schemes are hardly used in summer/autumn.

        Winter-spring of 2016 was an exceptional high-inflow season. Most seasons aren’t like that. Reece Dam usually does spill for a few weeks each year (as do most of the dams except for the big four storages), but the economics of adding more generation do not pay for the cost of doing so.

        The other problem is nobody knows what high and low power prices are these days. Last year power prices were reliably in the $20s or $30s for at least 6 hours overnight every night, but in the last 6 months it sometimes doesn’t trough below $100. It seems like $70 is the new $10, but nobody really knows how this will pan out. So it makes arbitrage extremely difficult.

  • Bruce

    The other change Tassy should be considering is electrifying as much of the transport fleet as possible. Locally produced excess electricity used in buses and private cars would offset diesel and petrol imports, thus improving the state’s balance of payments and overall sustainability.