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Tilt Renewables pushes go button on 54MW Victoria wind farm

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Victoria looks set to get another wind farm, after New Zealand-based outfit Tilt Renewables confirmed it would proceed with plans to develop a 54MW project in the state’s west, despite not yet having secured a power off-take deal.woodlawn-wind-farm-w520-q35-serree-e3dcd

Tilt – which last year chose Melbourne as the regional headquarters for its renewables only business, an offshoot of NZ utility, Trustpower – says the company had decided that the $105 million Salt Creek wind farm, near Mortlake, would go ahead without a power purchase agreement.

“Given our current highly contracted revenue base, we have taken a portfolio view to move ahead with this project allowing flexibility to consider securing a power purchase agreement at a later date,” said Tilt CEO Robert Farron on Friday.

“The closure of the Hazelwood power station and other market factors have seen wholesale electricity prices rise considerably, which underpin our revenue projections for the early years of this significant wind farm development,” Farron said.

“It is supported by proven technology and leading construction partners – Vestas, Zenviron and AusNet Services – and along with robust long-term operations and maintenance arrangements, it represents an attractive project which will make an important contribution to Australia’s Renewable Energy Target.”

Barron also says the company looked forward to “enhancing the positive relationship” the company had forged with the local community during the Salt Creek wind farm’s construction and operational phases.

Notably, Tilt has already experienced significant difficulties on this front, with its Rye Park project in New South Wales and its Palmer wind farm in South Australia both meeting strong opposition from local communities.

Rye Park was approved for development in May, although with 17 fewer turbines; while the Palmer wind farm was challenged in court after high profile local AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan mounted a legal battle to stop the 114-turbine project from going ahead. According to RE sources, McLachlan has since withdrawn the legal challenge.

But this does not appear to have put the company off its “significant” plans to develop and buy more large-scale wind and solar in Australia.

Tilt said last week it would will continue to develop other wind and solar projects around the country, with its focus also extending to storage technologies and firming capability to address generation variability.

The Salt Creek project is being funded from an existing undrawn $100 million corporate debt facility and available cash balances.

Construction of the project, which will include 15 wind turbines and a new 49 kilometre, 66 kV transmission line (to be built, owned and operated by AusNet Services), is expected to create more than 100 jobs, and be completed in 12 months.

*This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the court challenge against Palmer Wind Farm has been dropped.  

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  • George Darroch

    Trustpower had approval for a 300MW wind farm in Dundonnell last year, was anything made of that?

  • Alastair Leith

    “The closure of the Hazelwood power station and other market factors have seen wholesale electricity prices rise considerably, which underpin our revenue projections for the early years of this significant wind farm development,” Farron said.

    Well that speaks volumes for those (not me usually) who argue for a government program to close coal plants in an orderly and time appropriate to CC threat and energy security way.

    And going merchant for now… not even Vic Govt PPA for extra top-up subsidy it seems.

    • George Darroch

      Presumably, if we shut them in a rapid and disorderly manner over the next few years, we’ll get sufficient market response.

  • Alastair Leith

    Rye Park was approved for development in May, although with 17 fewer turbines; while the Palmer wind farm remains in limbo after high profile local AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan mounted a legal battle to stop the 114-turbine project from going ahead.

    Didn’t know that. Gil, really, you too? What about catastrophic climate change don’t you privileged white men understand?

    • Tom

      Gil owns the wealthy fertile land in the valley, and he’s pissed off that his neighbours who own the poorer rocky ridges around him are collecting the wind turbine rent instead of him.

      Some people feel entitled to have everything.

      It’s amazing how beautiful something looks when you’re making money from it, and how ugly something looks when your neighbours are making money from it and you’re not.

      • Rod

        Yes he orchestrated a few noisy locals to join his protest.

        I wasn’t aware there was any decent land around there but yes the windswept rocky stuff could do with a few turbines to improve the aesthetics.

        • Tom

          I grew up nearby. The flatter slopes and valleys are really good land – 800mm predominantly winter rainfall, fertile soils.

          It’s granite bedrock, so it weathers really slowly, so any erosion (steeper slopes and ridges) will leave really thin soils and exposed rocks. The gentle slopes and valleys however have deeper soil and are really good.

          On the good parts they grow lentils, peas, cereal crops, even some veggies. It’s even lush enough to have the odd dairy up there.

  • Tom

    This is a really interesting development – to go it alone without a PPA. I think it’s a good thing.

    What will be REALLY interesting is to see if this wind farm installs a battery, say 50MWh, to play the arbitrage game. Otherwise they will be forced to sell their power at $10/MWh at 4am when they know the morning peak price spike is just around the corner.

  • While more wind turbines with higher energy generation capacity are being developed continuously, there should also be consideration for risks, especially failures and accidents. We have conducted an extensive research study on wind turbine accidents around the world and also shared the data that we collected on our page, which I invite you to visit: http://ertekprojects.com/wind-turbine-accidents/ Best Regards, Dr. Gurdal Ertek ( http://gurdalertek.org )