Construction has commenced at the 180MW Berrybank Wind Farm, located in Western Victoria, which is set to supply power to the state as it moves closer to achieving its aim of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
The wind farm will use Vestas wind turbines that have been built in Victoria, at the Vestas Renewable Energy Hub in Geelong, repurposed from an old Ford factory.
A majority of the components for the wind farm will be produced in Australia, including turbine parts and assembly of the turbine hubs, for the first time in 10 years.
Keppel Prince has produced wind turbine towers at its Portland factory, also in Victoria, but Vestas’ decision to base production of turbine components in the state is a win for an otherwise sparse environment for clean energy manufacturing in Australia.
Keppel Prince will supply the towers for the Berrybank wind farm, in a contract worth around $30 million, and will also help the project meet targets set for local content.
Under a deal with the Victorian government, the wind farm secured a power purchase agreement through a reverse auction tender, and developer Global Power Generation will commit to 64% of the wind farm’s content being produced locally.
A total of 43 turbines will be deployed at the Berrybank site, generating enough power to supply 138,000 Victorian homes.
Ballarat Federation University will also be able to offer students wind turbine technician training, to support the ongoing maintenance of the wind turbines at the Berrybank project.
Construction of the $276 million project will be led by Global Power Generation and is set to create 213 jobs during the construction phase, along with 24 apprenticeships.
“The Berrybank wind project is an opportunity for GPG to continue its international growth strategy and renewable investment in Australia, an essential market for GPG,” GPG vice president Karl Lim said upon securing the contract with the Victorian Government.
Deakin University will also partner with the wind farm to undertake a research project into improving the efficiency of carbon-fibre production for wind turbine blades. Turbine blades now represent the largest single demand for carbon-fibre, using 40 per cent of global production.
The opportunities for workers to gain skills in the operation and maintenance of the wind farm, and the re-purposing of a former car manufacturing facility were welcomed by the Australian Wind Alliance as a positive step forward for the renewable energy sector.
“Wind farms provide long term jobs in an industry that will only grow into the future,” Australian Wind Alliance’s national coordinator Andrew Bray said.
“It’s a great opportunity to utilise Geelong’s long-standing manufacturing capabilities.”
“We are particularly pleased to see the project prioritise traineeships and apprenticeships to ensure that young people can get a start in this exciting industry.
Premier Daniel Andrews welcomed the commencement of construction, citing the job opportunities the project has created for Victoria.
“Victoria is the renewable energy capital of our nation and thanks to this investment, we’ve put Western Victoria right at the centre – this is great for jobs and great for our state.” Andrews said.
Support for renewable energy projects has been lead by state governments, following ongoing an ongoing failure of the federal government to establish a coherent energy policy.
The Andrews Labor government in Victoria undertook a reverse auction for the supply of renewable energy in the state, as the government aims to have half of all generation sourced from renewables.
Berrybank wind farm was one of six projects that were successful under the auction, which will add a combined 928MW of capacity to the state, as it faces the looming retirement of its fleet of brown-coal generators.
Victorian energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio welcomed the start of works at the Berrybank, for its contribution of 900 new jobs, and more than $7.2 billion in new investment being generated within Victoria.
“This is an exciting next step in driving down energy prices, reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs as we work towards our renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030.” D’Ambrosio said.
The wind farm is expected to commence operation in the second half of 2020.