The ACT government’s latest auction for wind energy projects has attracted 15 proposal totalling more than 1,100MW of capacity – more than five times the amount on offer.
ACT environment minister Simon Corbell, the architect of Australia’s most successful renewable energy support program of the last few years, said the number of proposals reflected strong industry interest, and low prices.
“Our early review of bid pricing indicates we are still in a very strong buyers’ market,” Corbell said in a statement.
ACT’s first wind auction, also for 200MW, has caused three new projects to obtain finance and begin construction, the Ararat and Coonooer Bridge projects in Victoria, and the first stage of the Hornsdale project in South Australia.
The lowest bid was for $81.50/MWh, but was effectively less than $70/MWh because the contract price will remain fixed for 20 years.
Because of uncertainty about renewable energy policy, these have been the only large scale renewable energy projects to begin construction in Australia in the last two years, apart from some solar farms sponsored by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
That uncertainty, which remains in the market, has helped attract low bids for the new auction.
Corbell said the 200MW of wind power from the new auction is expected to provide another 25 per cent of the ACT’s electricity consumption in 2020 – another major step towards reaching the ACT government’s legislated 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, and 100 per cent by 2025.
The ACT is also fielding interest for 50MW of “next generation” solar technology, including storage, and received expressions of interest for nearly 1,000MW of projects.
“This second wind auction will cut over half of the emissions associated with electricity usage in each and every Canberra household,” Corbell said. “By 2018, 80 per cent of the ACT’s electricity supply will be sourced through renewable energy.
It is believed that the wind auction proposals come from three states – South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. None of the NSW projects in the first round got up, amid fierce opposition from local Coalition MPs, both state and federal.
One of those, NSW deputy health minister Pru Goward, a fierce opponent of wind farms, told a public meeting on the Rye Creek wind farm that she believed there was some validity to health complaints. That won’t be encouraging for local project developments.