Two new wind farms will be built in regional Victoria in the next year after winning a state government tender designed to fast-track investment in large scale renewable energy in the state, and side-step the capital strike on new investment by major utilities.
The tender for large-scale renewable energy certificates by the Victoria Labor government, announced last year, will result in construction beginning soon on the two new wind farms.
These are the 30MW Kiata project facility by Australian company Windlab, near Horsham in western Victoria, and the 66MW Mt Gellibrand wind project, 65kms west of Geelong, by Spanish group Acciona Energy.
The tender is the first step in the state government’s policy to kick-start the large-scale renewable energy industry, which came to a halt under the previous conservative government, which imposed severe restrictions on wind farms, and under the stalemate created by changes to policy by the Abbott federal government.
Victoria, in a move to break the stalemate, last month announced it would aim to provide 25 per cent of its electricity needs from renewables by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025. This will require 5,400MW of new large-scale wind and solar farms in less than 10 years.
“We can build a strong, sustainable renewable energy industry that powers our broader economy, creates well paid jobs and reduces our environmental impact,” minister for energy, environment and climate change Lily D’Ambrosio said in a statement.
“We’re proud to be rebuilding much needed confidence in the renewable energy industry following the neglect of Liberal governments at both state and federal levels over recent years.”
Acciona said it intended to begin construction at Mt Gellibrand early next year. It said it will deliver 100 direct jobs during the construction phase. The company has approval for a 132MW facility, and will decide on the second 66MW phase subject to market conditions.
Managing Director Andrew Thomson also welcomed the state government’s commitment to growing Victoria’s renewable energy sector.
“This is very positive news for the growth of Acciona in Victoria, where we already operate the 192MW Waubra wind farm and where we have other wind energy projects in development,” Thomson said. Acciona also operates the Cathedral Rocks (64MW in South Australia) and Gunning (46.5MW in New South Wales) wind projects.
Windlab’s Roger Price said the off-take agreement for the LGCs with the Victorian government would make it easy to obtain financing for the new development, which would sell its output on the spot market. The Kiata wind farm is expected to have a capacity factor of 45 per cent.
Price says discussions are resuming with utilities but it will be a slow process. He said it chose a 30MW facility so it could remain “non scheduled” which meant its output could not be curtailed. He saw this as an advantage.
Windlab has a range of projects across the country, including the giant Kennedy hybrid wind/solar project. An initial 40MW stage is “making progress”, he says. The company hopes to build a 1,000MW hybrid plant over time.