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Australia’s biggest wind farm project lands connection deal

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Goldwind Australia is set begin construction on Australia’s biggest wind farm after finally concluding a network connection deal for the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind farm in Victoria.

The connection agreement was signed with local grid owner AusNet Services and the Australian Energy Market Operator, and will see AusNet spend $140 million on new network infrastructure.

This will include a new transmission line which will run 70km south of the Stockyard Hill Wind Farm to a new 500 kilovolt (kV) terminal station and network interface.

AusNet Services will also build, own and operate the new assets, and receive a fee from Goldwind once the wind farm is complete.

Stockyard Hill – located near Beaufort and Skipton about 35km west of Ballarat – made headlines last year not just on the scale of the project, but also its stunning low price, reportedly “at the low end” of a range between $50/MWh and $55/MWh.

To put that into context, it is substantially cheaper than the average price of Victoria’s wholesale market this year, and that includes the renewable energy certificates it will generate, and deliver to Origin Energy, which signed a 12 year off-take agreement.

The price of that deal stunned the market, but it has been followed by other deals that either match or get close – including the 429MW Murra Warra wind project in Victoria contracted by Telstra and other corporates, and the 453MW Cooper’s Gap wind farm in Queensland.

The Chinese-owned Goldwind – one of the biggest turbine manufacturers in the world, and a major developer in Australia – bought the Stockyard project from Origin and will use 149 of its own turbines for the project.

It also has the EPC (construction) contract and the maintenance services contract. In December, it landed a financing deal for the $700 million project with a group of nine local and international banks led by NAB.

Australia’s Managing Director John Titchen, said finalising the connection agreement was a key project milestone and paves the way for the construction of the wind farm.

“Preliminary works for the construction of the powerline, such as surveying and access track development, will begin shortly,” Titchen said in a statement.

The project is expected to create up to 300 jobs during construction peaks on site and employ up to 25 permanent maintenance staff once the wind farm is complete. The project will produce clean energy to power approximately 391,000 Victorian homes.  

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