Construction underway on Victoria’s 132MW Mt Gellibrand wind farm

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Acciona Energy breaks ground on Mt Gellibrand wind farm, a $258m project that was fast-tracked after winning a Victorian government tender.

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Acciona Energy has broken ground on its 132MW Mt Gellibrand wind farm, a $258 million project in Victoria’s western plains that was fast-tracked after winning a state government tender designed to reboot renewables investment in the state, and side-step a capital strike by major utilities.

At a turning of the sod ceremony at the wind farm’s site, 25km east of Colac, Acciona managing director Andrew Thomson said the company expected to see Mt Gellibrand “pouring” clean energy into the grid within about 15 months – at a time when the nation would be seeking to increase its capacity for renewable power generation.

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Thomson said the new wind farm would be a “massive economic driver” for the region over the next 25 years, creating 100 local jobs in the construction phase, and up to 10 operations and maintenance roles continuing for decades ahead.

Of course, generating local jobs and investment was a key aim of the Andrews government tender, alongside meeting its legislated target of 25 per cent renewables by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025.

Through the tender, Acciona secured the purchase of 66MW of of the farm’s renewable energy certificates, which in turn underpinned a project that promised to see around $10 million directly spent in the Colac Otway Shire.

The purchase agreement is for a period of up to 10 years, with the Victoria government buying the RECs to meet its own obligations towards the federal renewable energy target.

The other winner was the 30MW Kiata project, by Australian company Windlab, near Horsham in western Victoria.

Before those projects, only two new wind farms had been built or begun construction over an 18 month period in the state, including the small Coonooer Bridge wind farm (also by Windlab) and the Ararat wind project, which was fully commissioned this week.

Both of those had won tenders under the ACT government’s reverse auction scheme – a policy lever the Victorian government is now adopting under the guidance of former ACT energy minister, Simon Corbell.

“We can build a strong, sustainable renewable energy industry that powers our broader economy, creates well paid jobs and reduces our environmental impact,” said Victoria’s minister for energy, environment and climate change Lily D’Ambrosio in August last year, when the winning bids were announced.

“We’re proud to be rebuilding much needed confidence in the renewable energy industry following the neglect of Liberal governments at both state and federal levels over recent years.”

Acciona says Mt Gellibrand will also generate long-term and drought-proof income for host landholders, while the company will also establish a Community Benefit Fund to support local groups, sporting organisations and students through grants and scholarships.

“Local content is a feature of our procurement and contracting processes and we are already delighted to be working with local businesses R Slater & Sons, Coragulac Quarries, CCS, Bushys Fencing, Colac Cleaning Services, Hip Pocket Workwear, Baronga Motor Inn and Driscoll Engineering Services as well as Portland’s Keppell Prince,” Thomson said.

Mt Gellibrand will be Acciona’s fourth wind farm in Australia, after Cathedral Rocks (64MW) in South Australia, Waubra (192MW) in Victoria, and Gunning (46.5MW) in New South Wales.

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6 Comments
  1. Ian 3 years ago

    Amazing what can happen when the fossil fueled generators are retired. More local ownership of these sorts of projects are needed, and any subsidies from government should be for local content and community ownership. These sorts of projects can be money printing machines for the community.

  2. George Darroch 3 years ago

    How much of a challenge for supply management is caused by the correlation caused by the concentration of Victoria’s wind assets in such a small area?

    • stephan011 3 years ago

      I don’t know the particulars for Victoria, but California, Texas and the Southwest Power Pool grids in the US, all recently saw peaks above 50% of all power, provided by renewables, without any difficulty:

      “US grid operator SPP cracks 50% wind for the first time”
      http://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1215539/us-grid-operator-spp-cracks-50-percent-wind-for-the-first-time

      “With another generation record, Texas edges closer to 50% wind penetration”
      http://www.utilitydive.com/news/with-another-generation-record-texas-edges-closer-to-50-wind-penetration-1/417089/

      “Solar Briefly Topped 50% of California Electricity in March”
      http://fortune.com/2017/04/08/solar-california-electricity/

    • Just_Chris 3 years ago

      I’m with you on this one. Almost all of the NEMs wind is in and around Adelaide or near the SA/Vic boarder. Considering that the weather barrels across the bottom of Australia that really doesn’t seem smart.

      • George Darroch 3 years ago

        The difference between Augusta and Gippsland is a few hours, so that’s fine. I suspect with the increased generation in other parts of the state and SA it should work out alright.

    • Jonathan Prendergast 3 years ago

      I think less of an issue in Vic (ignoring Transmission congestion) at this point due to large demand in Vic. Certainly a big issue in SA, where wind generators already curtail and more is being built.

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