The 57MW Cherry Tree wind farm near Seymour, in Victoria, has delivered its first power to the grid, just under two months after the last of the project’s turbines were installed.
The wind farm’s owner, UK infrastructure giant John Laing, marked first generation as a “significant milestone” for the project, which it said was still on track despite the “ongoing challenges” of operating under Covid-19 restrictions.
“A Pandemic Response Plan has been implemented and site-specific controls and measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of all staff,” the company said on Tuesday.
A global health crisis hasn’t been the project’s only challenge, of course. As RenewEconomy has reported, Cherry Tree has been among various projects in Victoria to suffer protracted development delays due to a series of grid connection hurdles.
Ultimately, it was a combination of such project delays and transmission losses on operational projects that led to John Laing’s decision in March to offload its Australian solar and wind energy assets and quit the market entirely.
For Cherry Tree, however, the show goes on, with the next order of business the final testing of all of the wind farm’s Vestas turbines and its control systems, before it is brought into full operation.
Full operation will also kick-start the off-take deal with Infigen Energy – which has been managing construction of the project – to buy all of the electricity it generates and on-sell it to the grid. Vestas will provide operational and maintenance services to the project for 30 years.
“I am delighted that we have been able to reach this key milestone which is testament to the hard work of our colleagues during these challenging times,” said John Laing regional managing director Justin Bailey.
“I would also like to thank our delivery partners Vestas and AusNet, whose major efforts have also made this possible.
“Cherry Tree Wind Farm is a key asset in our renewable portfolio. When operational, the expected annual electricity output will be enough to power the equivalent of 37,000 homes and significantly reduce the CO2 emissions in the area.
“We are committed to developing critical infrastructure projects in Australia that improve the lives of the communities in which we operate and it is great to know that our projects are contributing to a more sustainable future for the people of Victoria,” Bailey said.
Meanwhile, the sale of Cherry Tree, alongside John Laing’s other Australian solar and wind generation assets, appears to have been put on hold until the second half of 2020.