French renewable energy firm Neon says it is aiming to install a total 1GW (1,000 megawatts) of large scale wind and solar facilities in Australia, after completing the finance of the 109MW Hornsdale 3 wind farm currently under construction in South Australia.
Hornsdale 3 last year signed an off-take agreement with the ACT government to provide electricity at a fixed rate of $73/MWh for 20 years.
It is one of the cheapest renewable energy contracts ever signed in Australia – below the average wholesale price of electricity in most states in 2017, and was a key part of the ACT government’s 100 per cent renewable energy target for its electricity supply, which it expects to reach by 2020.
When completed, the entire Hornsdale project will total 309MW – all contracted to the ACT government. The project is owned by Neoen, its local partner Megawatt Capital and international infrastructure investor John Laing.
Neoen is also building three large scale solar plants in western NSW, totalling 133MW, after winning grants in the large scale solar tender from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and it has also built a 10MW solar plant at the Degrussa copper mine in W.A.
Managing director Franck Woitiez says Neoen now has 455MW of wind and solar generators in construction or operation in Australia, and aims to develop, build and operate at least 1GW of wind and solar assets.
“Neoen is proud to be delivering a low-cost renewable energy future to the ACT and South Australia,” Woitiez said in a statement. “Being a long-term shareholder and renewable energy producer allows Neoen to be at the forefront of technologies and decreasing costs of renewables, which is good for Australia.”
The financing was provided by KFW IPEX-Bank and Society Generale, with junior financing provided by former Hornsdale project owner Investec.
Mark Schneider, the head of Megawatt Capital Investments, and formerly of Investec, said the ACT government program had secured the lowest cost renewable energy contracts in Australia and “created a long-term sustainable industry innovation hub” in the national capital.
Last week, Neoen announced that Hornsdale, in co-operation with the Australian Energy Market Operator and ARENA, would undertake an Australian-first trial of Frequency Control (FCAS) services from a wind farm.
The trial will see Hornsdale provide grid stabilising services to the National Electricity Market in reaction to rapid changes in supply/demand and other system conditions that have the potential to affect the stability of the South Australian network.
These services are normally provided by gas and coal-fired power stations, but as fossil fuel generators exit the market in coming years, these services will need to be provided by wind farms, solar farms, or other technologies such as battery storage, pumped hydro, or solar towers and storage.
The use of wind farms providing FCAS is common overseas, and is mandatory in Canadian provinces such as Quebec and Ontario.