Listed wind developer Tilt Renewables says production has begun at the 336MW Dundonnell Wind Farm in western Victoria, which has managed to dodge the connection and commissioning issues that have caused extensive delays to other large scale wind and solar projects.
The $560 million Dundonnell wind farm is the largest renewable energy project of the six that won a support agreement under the state government’s first renewable energy auction, designed to try and ensure the state meets its targets of 40 per cent renewables by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030.
Some of those projects, such as Cohuna and Cawarp solar farms, are facing potential delays because of their location in the problematic “west murray” region of the national grid, where five existing solar farms have had their output cut in half and dozens of other projects warned of delays.
Dundonnell is one of the few large scale wind and solar projects to connect to the grid under its original schedule.
“Reaching this milestone, which has recently proven difficult for many other projects, is the result of significant effort, over more than 12 months, by our internal specialists, the engineers at Vestas, the connections team at AEMO and the licensing team at the ESC (Essential Services Commission),” chief executive Deion Campbell said in a statement.
“(Dundonnell) was deliberately developed with a transmission connection into a strong part of the electricity grid, reducing future downside from congestion and changes to marginal loss factors, and we are excited to be on track with our largest ever renewable generation investment”.
Tilt spent $80 million on a 500kV substation and 38kms of 220kV overhead transmission line – built by Ausnet – to link into the state’s main 500kV transmission backbone.
The wind farm – located 23kms north east of Mortlake, is currently operating at an initial “hold point” of 5MW as testing and commissioning continues, effectively operating a single turbine. It hopes to reach a 100MW hold point within a few weeks and then be producing at full capacity from its 80 turbines by the end of the third quarter of the calendar year.
Tilt Renewables partnered with Vestas for the supply of wind turbines and construction of the wind farm under a full Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) contract. Vestas and its subcontractors have so far installed 23 turbines and a further 22 are partially erected.
About 87 per cent of the production from Dundonnell is covered by long term contracts with both the Victorian State Government and Snowy Hydro under an offtake agreement following its Renewable Energy Procurement Program.
Tilt also operates the 100MW Snowtown 1 wind farm and recently sold the 270MW Snowtown 2 wind farm in South Australia, and the 54MW Salt Creek wind farm in Victoria. It is considering a big battery in South Australia located next to the Snowtown facilities.