South Australia’s biggest wind farm and Blyth battery hit financial close, on track to power BHP mine

goyder south wind farm neoen south australia
Image: Neoen

The biggest wind project to date in South Australia, the 412MW Goyder South wind farm near Burra, has cleared another major milestone, with developer Neoen announcing it has reached financial close on the 203MW second tranche of the wind farm and the 238.5MW/477MWh Blyth Battery.

Neoen says joint debt financing for the two projects, located 150km apart in the mid-north region of South Australia, was provided by a group of five lenders including the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, KfW IPEX-Bank, ING, Mizuho and Westpac.

The funding for Goyder South Stage 1 – which is entirely owned by Neoen and the global renewables giant’s largest wind power asset worldwide – is also underpinned by a unique 70MW “baseload” energy supply contract with Australian mining giant BHP.

Neoen inked the first-of-its-kind deal in November 2022, to supply around-the-clock power to BHP’s huge Olympic Dam copper mine through a combination of wind and storage from the battery at Blyth.

A year later, in November 2023, Neoen achieved registration for both the first and second parts of the Stage 1 wind project, despite these not yet being complete, to allow for the completion of all the necessary processes to start generating, and for the sometimes lengthy commissions process to start.

Neoen says construction of the second stage of Goyder South Stage 1 and the Blyth Battery are currently underway, with both expected to be operational by mid-2025 and supplying half of the energy needed to power the Olympic Dam mine.

The Blyth Battery will be equipped with grid-forming inverter technology thanks to support from Arena, Neoen says, allowing it to provide essential system stability services traditionally provided by synchronous generation like coal and gas.

The CEFC, which has committed $99 million to the second tranche of the Neoen wind farm and the battery, says the Goyder South project will help decarbonise one of the world’s largest critical mineral mines.

The project is also using wind turbine anchor cages that were manufactured in Sydney by Allthread Industries using Australian steel, which includes about 50 per cent recycled material.

“This investment builds on our long-standing support for the enabling technologies that will transform the grid and deliver clean energy to households and businesses around Australia,” said CEFC chief Ian Learmonth on Tuesday.

“The challenge of reducing emissions across the economy starts with the energy sector. The offtake agreement with BHP demonstrates how reducing energy emissions accelerates decarbonisation across the economy.

“This innovative solution to provide firmed green energy at Olympic Dam enables a significant energy user to progress its net zero goals while producing a critical mineral like copper more sustainably,” Learmonth said.

All told, the CEFC has now helped Neoen to finance four large scale batteries in Australia, including the Victorian Big Battery, the Capital Battery in the ACT and the expansion of the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia – Australia’s first ever Big Battery.

“The Blyth Battery is the fourth Neoen large scale battery that the CEFC has financed … [and] the fifth large scale battery financed by the CEFC and takes lifetime commitments in this critical enabling technology to more than $390 million, complementing our extensive renewable energy portfolio,” said the green bank’s chief investment officer for renewables and sustainable finance, Monique Miller.

For Neoen, the Goyder South project is the global renewables giant’s largest wind farm anywhere in the world – and has the potential to get much bigger, with planning approval for up to 1,200MW of wind, 900MW of battery storage and 600MW of solar.

As part of the project’s vegetation offset strategy, Neoen in November transferred ownership of 1,000 hectares at World Ends gorge to the South Australian government, paving the way for a new national park to be created with the adjacent Hopkins Creek conservation area and adjoining the Goyder Renewables Zone.

Neoen described that deal – struck with the government, the Ngadjuri Nation, the local council and the original host landowners as a “true first” for the renewable industry in Australia.

Neoen says there are currently more than 400 construction workers on site and working on the stage two wind farm and battery, while 15 permanent positions are expected during operations.

“It’s great to see clean energy powering mining – bringing together key national industrial strengths in renewables and resources, while creating jobs,” said federal energy minister Chris Bowen on Tuesday.

“The Albanese government is excited to support a project that involves three vital things for Australia’s future – wind power, batteries, and strategic materials.”

Alongside the BHP offtake deal, around half of the capacity of Goyder South 1 is contracted to the ACT government, to boost its renewable electricity supply as it seeks more clean power to manage its transition to electric homes and transport, as well as to an offtake agreement with Flow Power.

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