One of the biggest wind projects in the country – and potentially the biggest in South Australia – is finally moving to its second stage as Nexif begins construction of part 2 of its what is now a three-stage Lincoln Gap wind farm and battery storage project near Port Augusta.
The first stage of Lincoln Gap had barely installed its first turbine when the main supplier Senvion declared bankruptcy. Nexif found it had no choice but to go through and install 35 Senvion turbines that were already delivered at the site or “on the water”, and it completed 126MW before turning to a new supplier.
That new supplier is Vestas, which will supply another 24 turbines to add 86MW to the existing facility, completing the agreed first stage of the project with a capacity of 212MW. A further stage, totalling another 252MW could be built down the track subject to off take agreements and grid capacity.
Nexif hosted an official “sod turning” ceremony a week or so ago with state premier Steven Marshall and energy minister (and local member) Dan van Holst Pellekaan, along with Port Augusta mayor Brett Benow. They had also attended the official launch of the 317MW Port Augusta Renewable Energy Project, the biggest wind and solar hybrid plant in the country.
The foundations for the new Lincoln Gap turbines will be poured over summer, the first towers installed from the end of the first quarter, and completion expected towards the end of 2021.
The delays and change of supplier caused headaches for Nexif, which had to renegotiate connection and regulatory agreements with the local transmission company, state authorities and the Australian Energy Market Operator.
It also impacted the 10MW/10MWh big battery, supplied by Fluence, which has been built but was also caught up with the connection and regulatory changes, and has to wait before it can be fully commissioned.
Nexif CEO Charles Rattray says the project will also benefit from the re-location and conversion of some of South Australia’s “back-up” generators to provide 154MW of “firming” gas fired generation for the output of the Lincoln Gap wind farm. They will be installed nearby at Snapper Point.
That should be in operation from late next year, and the Iberdrolar, which is building the Port Augusta hybrid project, and is in the throes of completing its buyout of Infigen Energy, will also take possession of the other 120MW of the state government’s diesel back-up, and also convert them to gas.
“We are pleased to be on track to complete our plans for South Australia, which include the doubling of Lincoln Gap Wind Farm and Battery Storage project to 474MW through a 252MW further expansion of the Lincoln Gap wind farm,and the implementation of the 154MW dispatchable peaking power plant at Snapper Point,” Rattray said.
He noted that the entire project had a value of $770 million, will create 400 jobs during construction. He also thanked the “ongoing commitment” from lenders Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Westbourne Capital.
Rattray told RenewEconomy that Nexif’s focused remained for the moment in South Australia. Another wind project in north NSW had been badly affected by changing marginal loss factors, but the company was keen to acquire more projects in Victoria and NSW if the right opportunity in wind generation arose.
“The solar side of things is pretty challenging, Rattray said. “Wind is more our thing.”