While federal government rhetoric towards renewable energy is on the improve (see our blog on recent comments from Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg) the investment drought caused by the anti-renewables Tony Abbott era continues. With the notable exception of the White Rock Wind Farm, no large scale wind farm has proceeded to construction under the Renewable Energy Target alone since 2013.
But the glimmer of hope has come from state, territory and local government levels who have underwritten new wind farms and secured long-term contracts for clean, renewable energy at low prices.
The list of new wind farms that have proceeded to construction is impressive and gives a glimpse of what is possible across the country if we can return to a conducive investment climate.
The ACT has just completed its third wind auction round, following on from its first two auction rounds for new wind capacity, nabbing prices as low as $73/MWh, the lowest prices for wind power ever seen in Australia. Victoria has kicked off its plans by purchasing wind energy for the Victorian government's own, not insubstantial, electricity use. Queensland government-owned utility, Ergon Energy has conducted it's own renewable energy tender and the City of Melbourne has quoted ex-New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg - ‘Nations talk and cities act’ - in announcing its tender for enough wind energy to power 28,000 homes. The NSW government's Transport for NSW has also commenced a tender for renewable energy to cover an extension to its metro rail network.
The projects that have received support total total 865 megawatts* are:
- Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm - Victoria - 19.4 MW - Windlab - ACT auction
- Ararat Wind Farm - Victoria - 80 MW - RES - ACT auction
- Hornsdale Wind Farm Stages I & II & III - 100 + 100 MW + 109 MW - Neoen and Megawatt Capital - ACT auction
- Crookwell II - 91 MW - Union Fenosa - ACT auction
- Sapphire Wind Farm - Northern NSW - 100 MW - CWP Renewables - ACT auction
- Mt Emerald Wind Farm - Queensland - 170 MW - RATCH Australia - Ergon Energy
- Kiata Wind Farm - Victoria - 30 MW - Windlab - Vic auction
- Mount Gellibrand Wind Farm - 66 MW - Acciona - Victoria
* Both the Ararat and Sapphire Wind Farms are constructing larger projects (240 MW & 260 MW respectively). The contracted amount listed above is subject to power purchase agreements with the ACT government and the remainder is proceeding on a merchant basis.
Image: Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm under construction, News Ltd