Victoria’s Coonooer Bridge wind farm has begun producing what is assumed to be the cheapest wind energy in Australia, after the project became the first from the ACT government’s hugely successful wind auction to generate power.
The milestone was announced by ACT environment minister Simon Corbell on Wednesday, who said the wind farm was currently exporting 6MW of energy, with full generation of 20MW expected later this month.
“Coonooer Bridge becoming operational is an important milestone in the ACT Government’s commitment to 90 per cent renewable energy for the ACT,” Mr Corbell said.
“The energy being produced at Coonooer bridge is the cheapest wind energy in Australia and will be supplying Canberra homes for 20 years.
“By 2018 we will be sourcing over 80 per cent of our energy needs from renewable sources, making us the sustainable energy Capital of Australia.
“In another win for the ACT, the wind farm developer, and part-owner, is a locally grown business, Windlab Limited,” Mr Corbell said.
Windlab, a Canberra-based spin-off from the CSIRO’s wind research unit, said last November that while Coonooer Bridge was a relatively small project, with only six turbines, it would tap one of the best wind resources in Australia at its location near Bendigo.
Coonooer Bridge will receive a tariff of $81.50/MWh from the ACT. Not only is this believed to be the lowest contracted price in Australia (although most contracts are private) it will remain fixed for 20 years, with no indexing for inflation. That equates to a current price of around $65/MWh, according to some estimates.
“The project is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power over 14,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by over 80,000 tonnes per annum,” said Windlab project manager Matthew Parton.
Parton also praised the ACT’s renewable energy policy – and specifically its large-scale renewable auctions – for achieving it’s objectives and for helping the company to grow.
“The ACT wind auctions are a fantastic climate change policy response that has resulted in additional installed capacity on top of that required by the federal government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET),” he said.
“Success in this auction, including with Coonooer Bridge wind farm, and as the project manager of the Ararat wind farm [another project aided by the ACT’s RET scheme], has allowed Windlab to expand its staff and add construction and operation management to the services it supplies to project owners.”
Windlab is managing the project from its global asset management centre in Canberra, and estimates its injection to the local ACT economy to be $240 million over the next 20 years of operation.
There are currently a further three wind farms under development which will power Canberra homes with sustainable energy, with further announcements anticipated in the near future.