- It’s not all bad news for solar and wind developers in the state of Victoria: leading international renewable energy developer Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) says it has secured finance for its 85MW Winton solar project near Benalla and construction is expected to start soon.
- Like the nearby Glenrowan West project being built by Wirsol and owned by Germany’s Wirtgen, the Winton solar farm finds itself on the “good” side of Victoria’s grid, and is not threatened by the congestion issues that has plagued projects further west and north, where five big solar farms have had their output cut in half, and many more had their commissioning or initial connection agreements delayed or put on hold.
- Winton was one of six large scale wind and solar projects that won long term support agreements through the Victoria Labor government’s reverse auction program in 2018, a key part of its aim to reach 40 per cent renewables by 2025, and 50 per cent by 2040.
The funding for the Winton solar farm has been provided by ING and ABN AMRO Bank. FRV was awarded a 15-year support agreement under the Victoria tender, which guarantees a certain price (around $50-55/MWh although the final details were not revealed).
- FRV is part of the Saudi and UAE-based Abdul Latif Jameel Energy and says it projects in Australia now total more than $A1 billion of investment since 2012, including the 20MW Royalla plant in the Australian Capital Territory, the 100MW Clare and Lilyvale projects in Queensland, and the 56MW Moree (pictured) and 67.8MW Goonumbla projects in NSW, and now Winton in Victoria.
Carlo Frigerio, the head of FRV in Australia, said Australia remains a key market for FRV. “We are delighted to support the achievement of Victoria’s renewable energy targets of 25% renewable energy generation by 2020, rising to 40% by 2025 and 50% by 2030,” he said in a statement.
He also said the company was excited about a Renewable Energy Research Investment Partnership with the University of Melbourne exploring ways to accelerate Victoria’s transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future through technical and regulatory innovation, economic development, and community empowerment.
The research will explore technical and regulatory constraints and opportunities for distributed renewable energy, as well as the social impact and equity implications of community energy projects.
Dr Sebastian Thomas from the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne, said sustainable future needs low-carbon technologies, but new livelihood opportunities, business models, and community participation are equally necessary.
“Genuine engagement and partnership between communities, the private sector, government, and universities is vital, and the University of Melbourne will contribute the best possible technical and social research. We are pleased to work with FRV in this exciting initiative.”
- The 85MW (AC) Winton project will deliver enough electricity a year (around 210,000MWh) to supply the equivalent of more than 52,000 Australian homes, while avoiding the emission of 150,000 tons of CO2 per year.
- It is expected 150 jobs will be created during the construction – being managed by EPC contractor Gransolar – along with other benefits from the increased investment and additional indirect economic opportunities for local businesses.