Australia’s largest wind project – the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm in central Victoria – says it has completed the installation of the last of its 149 turbines, but it is still not sending power to the grid, more than one year after the original timeline.
Stockyard Hill was announced in a hail of publicity more than three and a half years ago when Origin Energy then boasted of the lowest price for a contracted wind project in the country – believed to be in the low $50s/MWh (including the renewable energy certificates).
It was a milestone announcement, as we reported here – see Origin stuns industry with record low price for 530MW wind farm – and Origin CEO Frank Calabria said at the time that he expected the project to start producing electricity in 2019.
That date came and went, and even though the first of the wind farm’s sub stations was energised in early June this year, when it said full commissioning was expected by the end of 2020, there is still no sign of any output.
That makes Stockyard Hill the biggest wind or solar project to fall foul of the now nearly routine delays in connection agreements, registration and commissioning that have plagued the market over the last few years.
It is believed that Stockyard Hill may not have even received its registration approval from the Australian Energy Market Operator, which would point to significant technical hurdles. Neither AEMO nor Goldwind would address that question when asked by Renewconomy on several occasions this week.
Stockyard Hill joins a number of other projects that have been seriously delayed in connection and commissioning in Victoria, due to the limits of the local network. These include the 336MW Dundonnell wind farm, the 194MW Bungala wind farm, and the 246MW Kiamal solar farm, among others.
According to consultants Rystad Energy, there is nearly 2GW of wind capacity in western Victoria awaiting commissioning, or still under construction. Many of the projects are running behind schedule, with impacts on electricity prices and LGC prices.
In response to RenewEconomy’s questions from earlier in the week, Goldwind did issue a statement on Thursday announcing the completion of the last turbine at Stockyard Hill, which is located about 35kms west of Ballarat and is now jointly owned by Goldwind and the Qatar-based Nebras Power.
“Completing the installation of wind turbines at Stockyard Hill Wind Farm marks an important milestone achieved,” Goldwind Australia’s managing director John Titchen said in the statement.
“We are excited to be witnessing the realization of our hard work and planning. Stockyard Hill is a monumental project that will be instrumental in providing sustainable energy to residences throughout the region,” said Khalid M. Jolo, CEO of Nebras Power.
The statement said Stockyard Hill Wind Farm currently employs a team of maintenance staff which is expected to grow to 25 permanent maintenance staff once the wind farm is operational. It said “final commissioning and project completion activities will continue into early 2021.”
.The project comprises 149 wind turbines, approximately 110 kilometres of access track,, about 130 kilometres of underground cabling, a 75 kilometre 132 kV multi-duplex powerline, three on-site substations, and a major terminal station near Lismore.