Construction of the 175MW White Rock Wind Farm in Glen Innes NSW will go ahead at the end of this month, the project’s owners have said, making it the first large wind project to go ahead since the downsizing of the federal Renewable Energy Target almost a year ago.
White Rock, which stands to be New South Wales’ largest wind farm once built, was the first to be approved after the passage of the new RET, and has the further distinction of being located in the heart of Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce’s electorate.
The launch of construction of the project follows the news that White Rock’s owners, Goldwind, have sold a 75 per cent share in the project to fellow Chinese firm CECEP Wind-Power Corporation (CECWPC), themselves retaining a 25 per cent interest.
“The investment in White Rock Wind Farm is being made on the basis of the Australian government’s legislated Renewable Energy Target and the clear support for this Law by the Australian government and the Opposition has been an important factor in making this investment commitment,” said Goldwind CEO John Titchen. “The CECWPC and Goldwind investment will now enable construction to proceed.”
In an emailed statement to RenewEconomy, Titchen said the project did not have a PPA, but would sell the wind farm’s output to the NEM on a merchant basis, and Large Scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) would be sold under the RET legislation.
“The market for LGCs has significantly strengthened and more projects are needed to meet the legislated target. It is an excellent time to be investing in Australian wind farms,” he said.
In a joint media statement, the two companies said work would begin on site – in the New England/Northern Tablelands region of NSW – in late April.
The first stage of construction will install 70 2.5MW turbines, although planning approval has been granted for 119 in total, which will be constructed in stages.
Li Shusheng, chairman of CECWPC, said his company was “very pleased to have secured (the)… opportunity to enter the Australian renewable energy market.
“The 175MW White Rock Wind Farm will be larger than any currently operating wind farm in NSW,” he said, adding that the project’s approvals, connection agreement and construction contracts were all in place.
Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall said building the state’s largest wind farm at Glen Innes would go a long way towards consolidating the region’s status as a hub for renewable energy, as well as bringing investment that is expected to exceed $400 million.
“Building renewable energy projects in this region makes sense – on any measure,” he told the Glen Innes Examiner.
“There’s no coal mined in the Northern Tablelands, and there’s never likely to be, but we have unlimited availability of wind and solar energy so why not harness that energy, and capture some of the revenue from it to build wealth and infrastructure in our own communities?
Joyce – who once demanded to know “what this insane lemming-like desire to go to renewables” was going to do to Australia’s economy – was reportedly equally enthused about the wind farm launch, which will help lend a much-needed sense of “progress” and “innovation” to the Turnbull government score card.
“The project at White Rock will drive innovation and create the jobs of the future, while delivering a financial benefit from the investment of public money,’ Joyce said at the launch.
“This project will be a fantastic boost for the local economy as it is expected to employ up to 200 people during the construction phase and generate 10 full-time positions over a 20 year period.
“This and other clean energy projects proposed for the region will ensure the New England is a major player in the field …and clean energy is essential to meet our emissions reduction targets.”