The ACT government has announced that the Sapphire wind farm in northern NSW has 28 turbines in place and operating, and now helping to supply the ACT as part of its 100 per cent renewable electricity target.
“Today is a fantastic milestone in the ACT’s transition to 100% renewable electricity,” the minister for climate change and sustainability Shane Rattenbury said in a statement.
“The ACT-supported part of Sapphire wind farm will power around 48,000 ACT homes – contributing about 12 per cent towards our renewable electricity target.”
The Sapphire wind farm will reserve 100MW of its capacity as part of its contract to the ACT, although the whole project will total 270MW – and may be joined by a solar farm and battery storage in the future.
The facility is located 18kms west of Glen Innes in the northern Tablelands, and is one of a number of wind and solar projects in the heart of the New England electorate of former deputy prime minister and ex-Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.
Owned by CWP Renewables, it will be the largest wind farm in the state once completed, overtaking the nearby White Rock wind farm.
Other facilities contributing to the ACT’s 100 per cent renewables target include the completed three stages of the Hornsdale wind farm in Victoria, the Ararat and Coonooer Bridge wind farms in Victoria, and the Crookwell wind farm in NSW.
The latter two stages of the Hornsdale wind farm will not start contributing to the ACT target until the formal start of their contract in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Rattenbury said the Sapphire wind farm will bring many local investment benefits to the local community.
“As we have seen with other renewables projects, there will be significant flow-on benefits to the Canberra region through this wind farm,” Mr Rattenbury said.
CWP, which moved its headquarters to Canberra as part of its tender for the project, is also establishing an investment model that will provide an opportunity for the local community to invest in the project.
The remainder of the wind farm is likely to be completed by the end of the year, with the bulk likely to be contracted to another third party.
CWP has said that it is considering a 200MW solar farm and battery storage to supplement the wind project. Other major wind projects, including White Rock, Gullen Range, Snowtown, and Kennedy, are also adding, or already added, solar to their wind facilities.
CWP expects to make a decision on the solar project in the third quarter of this year.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.