Angus Taylor

Biggest wind farm in NSW reaches financial close, to feature Australia’s biggest turbines

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The biggest wind project in NSW to date – the 396MW Rye Park wind farm – is to begin construction later this year after achieving financial close, the second major wind project to do so in two days after a near 18-month investment drought.

Rye Park has been on the books of Tilt Renewables for years, and is one of the big pipeline of projects that attracted a $2.6 billion offer for its Australian assets by PowAR, a joint venture between AGL, QIC and the Future Fund, that took ownership of Tilt less than a month ago.

The Rye Park project will feature 66 Vestas turbines rated at 6MW each – the biggest to be installed in Australia to date. It will be the largest operating wind farm in NSW when fully commissioned in 2024, and one of the five biggest in the country.

The wind project is near the village of the same name, north of Yass, stretching along ridges of grazing land with most located within the Hume electorate of federal energy minister and long time anti-wind campaigner Angus Taylor.

It comes a day after an application for the massive Hume underground coal mine near Berrima, on the other side of Taylor’s electorate, was rejected by the state’s independent planning commission.

More than half of the production from the Rye Park wind project (55 per cent) has been contracted to mining company Newcrest Mining under a 15-year power purchase agreement that will supply the Cadia gold mine in NSW, and help Newcrest reduce its own corporate emissions.

“This is considered the first of many investment decisions that will be made over the coming years as the combined business looks to build out the Tilt Renewables development pipeline, which we consider to be the best in the market,” PowAR chief executive Geoff Dutaillis said in a statement.

“(Rye Park)  will be coming online very soon after the foreshadowed closure of the Liddell Power Station in NSW, supporting the transition to a cost-effective, clean energy system and helping the State reach its important energy and environmental ambition.”

NSW has a detailed renewable infrastructure plan that seeks to ensure enough renewables and storage are built to replace the three big coal generators that are expected to close over the next 10 years – Liddell in 2023m Vales Point in 2029, and Eraring in 2031.

Most of this is centred around the creation of at least five renewable energy zones, with the Central West REZ attracting interest from 27GW of wind, solar and storage projects, and the New England REZ attracting interest from 34GW of projects.

Until earlier this week, according to the Clean Energy Council, only one wind farm in Australia’s main grid had reached financial close in the past 18 months.

But two deals in two days suggest that there is movement in the industry. On Tuesday, the Queensland government owned CleanCo announced it will take the bulk of the output from the new 180MW Dulacca wind project that has been sold by RES to Octopus, and which has already begun construction.

PowAR’s operating assets include the 199MW Silverton wind farm, the 102MW Nyngan and the 53MW Broken Hill solar farms in NSW, as well as the 336MW Dundonnell and 54MW Salt Creek wind farms in Victoria, plus the 453MW Coopers Gap wind farm in Queensland, and the 101MW Snowtown wind farm in South Australia.

The development portfolio include the enormous Liverpool Range wind project in NSW, the Waddi wind project in W.A., and Palmer in South Australia.

Dutaillis recently spoke to RenewEconomy’s Energy Insiders podcast about this and other projects which you can listen to here. Energy Insiders Podcast: Can Australia break its wind and solar investment drought?

The Rye Park project is expected to produce an average of 1,188GWh a year, equivalent to the annual electricity needs of about 215,000 homes, and will offset 960,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. Zenviron and Lumea will work on the project construction and connections.

See RenewEconomy’s Large Scale Wind Farm Map of Australia for more information.

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