The owners of Australia’s biggest wind farm – the heavily delayed 530MW Stockyard Hill facility near Ballarat in Victoria – have confirmed they have passed their first “hold point” test, but there is no word on when it might be able to operate at full capacity.
Stockyard Hill was originally hoping to start generation in late 2019, and the fact that it didn’t meet that first target is unexceptional in today’s main grid, where registration, connection and commissioning delays have become par for the course.
But Stockyard Hill stands out because of the size of the project, and because it did not start injecting power into the grid until a few weeks ago, despite being eructing the last of its 149 turbines in December last year.
Reasons for the delay have not been revealed, apart from some vague reference to “oscillation issues”, and so far only a portion (286MW) of the project has obtained registration.
It is operating at its first “hold point” which restricts output to around 30MW. Goldwind said in a statement issued late Friday that it “has passed its first hold point test”, and is now approved by AEMO to generate up to 30MW.
“The project will now proceed with the testing process at several incremental output levels. The process for registration at full capacity is also in progress,” Goldwind Australia managing director John Titchen said in a statement.
Joint owners Nebras Power said it was pleased with the progress. “Stockyard Hill is a mammoth project that will be instrumental in providing sustainable energy to residences throughout the region,” said Nebras CEO Khalid M. Jolo.
However, there was no word on when the wind farm would be able to operate at full capacity. It may take at least six months to work through the hold points, and since the second part of the project has not received its registration.
A Goldwind spokesman referred RenewEconomy back to the press release, which gave no guidance on the timetable. Some indication may emerge when the project’s off-taker, former owner Origin Energy, updates its results in the next month.
The timing of full commissioning is a significant question for the market, both for spot and futures prices in the wholesale electricity market and in the market for renewable energy certificates.
Origin indicated in February that Stockyard Hill was unlikely to operate at full capacity until 2022, and cited delays as the major reason why it has chosen to pay a $152 million shortfall penalty to the Clean Energy Regulator, on the hope of making good when the wind farm does enter full production.