Victoria sidesteps utilities in deal for two new wind farms | RenewEconomy

Victoria sidesteps utilities in deal for two new wind farms

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Two new wind farms to be built in Victoria after winning state tender and side-stepping utility capital strike on large scale renewables.

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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.

wind energy pic

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.”

Only two new wind farms have been built or begun construction in the last 18 months in the state, the small Coonooer Bridge wind farm (also by Windlab) and the Ararat wind project.
Both won tenders under the ACT government’s reverse auction scheme (it aims for 100 per cent renewables by 2020). The Victorian government is looking to adopt those reverse auction mechanisms after the federal renewable energy target runs out in 2020.
Another wind farm, the 300MW Dundonnell project, has also got planning approval and could begin construction within a year. Trustpower chief executive Vince Hawksworth said the Victorian Government’s Renewable Energy Roadmap and supporting policies marked an exciting future for renewables in Victoria.
The tender for renewable energy certificates attracted bids from 16 projects totalling more than 1,000MW in capacity. The purchase agreement is for a period of up to 10 years, but the price for the tender win has not been announced.  The Victoria Government will buy the  renewable energy certificates to meet its own obligations towards the federal renewable energy target.
acciona gellibrand
Victoria energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio with members of the Acciona team, the local mayor and Mt Gellibrand landowners

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.

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  1. Barri Mundee 4 years ago

    Good on the Victorian Labor government in getting more wind farms projects and thumbing their nose at the utilities.

    • Brunel 4 years ago

      Solar panels can be off-grid while wind farms depend on the grid.

  2. Ian 4 years ago

    Hopefully the floodgates to wind farm development will open.

    Word of warning to the wind farm development laggards: Peak consumption. Get in quick before development opportunities dry up.

  3. Brian Tehan 4 years ago

    Congratulations to the Victorian government for a new start for renewable energy in this state. Thanks also for actually doing something concrete about “jobs and growth” instead of just talking about it.

  4. Brunel 4 years ago

    Not sure about wind farms near Horsham.

    Does it get windy there.

    Should not the wind turbines be near the roaring 40s.

    • Pedro 4 years ago

      Pretty sure that the site has been carefully selected and the wind resource thoroughly assessed. Site may not have the highest average wind speed compared to a coastal location. But the site is close to a load and probably all the other power infrastructure required.

  5. john 4 years ago

    This development comes under the title of Anything is better than Nothing basket.
    A deplorable waste of time has been lost in the last few years due to a policy of stopping any type of RE development, not exactly a shining light in governance it must be said.

  6. lin 4 years ago

    It must be extremely annoying for the foolish fossil Feds that Victoria continues to be progressive, regardless of the relentless pressure applied to stall progress. Perhaps this is why Canberra continues to dud Victoria out of GST revenue, infrastructure development grants etc. No pork barrel too corrupt, no subsidy too irrational, no mine too polluting, no environment too precious for our “leaders” to put their short term benefit before Australia’s future. I remain bewildered why they continue to get more than 10% of the vote.

  7. trackdaze 4 years ago

    You mean “These things” turn wind into energy?

    I thought they were scarecrows to rightwingers

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