French renewable energy developer Neoen has officially begun work on the Bulgana Green Power Hub, which will be the first hybrid project combining a major wind farm with a battery storage installation in Victoria.
The first sod on the project was turned by Victoria energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Wednesday at the site, located on an old gold mine in Victoria.
The project will deliver 100 per cent renewable energy to what will be the country’s biggest vegetable glasshouse, owned by Nectar Farms.
“Today marks the commencement of construction of one of the world’s most innovative renewable energy projects,” Neoen Australia boss Franck Woitiez (pictured right, above) told RenewEconomy.
“It is delivering dispatchable, sustainable and competitive energy to Nectar Farms and Victorian consumers, thanks to the vision and ambition of the Victorian Governement and (Energy minister Lily) D’Ambrosio.
“It shows that energy transition is (happening) now. Coal is a thing of the past.”
Woitiez said Victoria’s role in this $550 million project was critical, as Nectar Farms was intending to take its greenhouse project overseas because of high cost of electricity and gas in Victoria.
It was convinced to stay after intervention from the Victoria government, and after being convinced of the overwhelming economics of electrifying the greenhouse energy supply and using wind and battery storage.
Victoria helped further by signing a 15-year power purchase agreement for some of the output of the 194MW wind farm that will be built on site, and which will provide all the power to the greenhouse, as well as exporting to the grid.
The hydroponic greenhouse will take around 15 per cent of the output of the wind farm, and its needs will be backed up by a 20MW/34MWh Tesla battery storage facility.
Tesla Powerpacks have has been used in the so-called “big battery” at Hornsdale (100MW/129MWh) and will also be used in the 25MW/50MWh battery next to the Ganawarra solar farm.
D’ambrosio (centre, in picture) said the project will create an estimated 1,300 jobs, including 270 direct ongoing jobs in the agricultural sector and 10 direct ongoing jobs in the renewable energy industry once complete in late 2019.
She said the development of the wind farm will provide an immediate boost to the Stawell economy with construction benefiting local businesses.
The wind farm and battery storage system will also provide reliable, affordable, renewable energy to unlock the development of a major new advanced agriculture facility in Stawell.
“This project will make the advanced agriculture facility the world’s first ever crop farm to be completely powered by renewable energy,” D’Ambrosio said in a statement.
“This is an exciting next step in delivering affordable, sustainable and clean energy – creating jobs right acrossVictoria.
“We’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the Bulgana Green Power Hub is helping us meet our ambitious renewable energy targets.”
Friends of the Earth noted that the local seat of Ripon, currently held by the Liberals’ Louise Staley, is one of the most marginal in the state, which goes to the poll on November 24.
Staley is a former fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs, the influential “think tank” notorious for its denial of climate science and hatred of renewables. The Liberal Opposition has vowed to kill the state’s target of 40 per cent renewables by 2025.