The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has pledged an investment of $175 million to develop Stage One of the Golden Plains Wind Farm in Victoria, a project which will include 122 wind turbines and generate 756.4MW of clean energy to replace coal-fired generation.
The CEFC has committed up to $175 million to the project, with TagEnergy acquiring the 30-year development contract, and AusNet appointed to connect the farm’s initial 756MW to the grid over four years.
The estimated annual emissions abatement is an average 770,000 tonnes CO2-e, or more than 23 million tonnes CO2-e over the project’s 30-year lifetime.
TagEnergy, part of the Impala SAS Group, has acquired Stage 1 of Golden Plains Wind Farm from WestWind Energy, which will manage the development for 30 years and work to bring Stage 2 to fruition.
TagEnergy estimates that when complete, the 1,300MW Golden Plains Wind Farm will generate enough clean energy to power more than 750,000 homes, the equivalent of every home in regional Victoria.
AusNet Services (AusNet) has been appointed by WestWind Energy and TagEnergy to connect the first 756MW stage of the Golden Plains Wind Farm to the grid, following four years of collaborative effort.
AusNet, along with its construction partner Consolidated Power Projects Australia, will design, build, own and operate the transmission assets for the wind farm, including a new 500kV terminal station, two 500/220kV transformers, a five-kilometre transmission line, and a new 220kV switching station.
AusNet, Chief Development Officer, Chad Hymas, said AusNet was pleased to be part of the state-significant project that will help create Victorian jobs and support the state’s transition to renewable energy.
“AusNet’s transmission expertise, local knowledge and experience delivering grid connections and transmission assets means we are ideally placed to deliver this supporting infrastructure,” Mr Hymas said.
“We are proud to be working with a number of local partners, including the engineering expertise of Jacobs in Melbourne and control room manufacturer SRS Power in Dandenong South, to drive a more sustainable future for Victoria.”
Detailed design and procurement have commenced, with construction due to commence in early 2023.
CEFC CEO, Ian Learmonth, said, COP27 reminded the world that Australia must act urgently to reduce emissions.
“As Australia galvanises its efforts to decarbonise, CEFC capital is driving a material increase in our clean energy generation capacity to help reach net zero emissions by 2050,” Mr Learmonth said.
“Large scale wind developments like Golden Plains Wind Farm enable Australia to capitalise on our abundant natural resources so we can decarbonise our energy grid and fill the gap in energy supply caused by the accelerated exit of coal fired power stations.
“This landmark project demonstrates the ongoing evolution of the CEFC after ten years of investment. Our investment expertise is helping the clean energy sector overcome significant headwinds, including supply-chain issues, rising prices and higher interest rates.
“As a critical contributor to the Australian Government’s Rewiring the Nation strategy, the CEFC is helping build a 21st century grid that will deliver clean energy to homes and businesses around Australia.”
TagEnergy CEO, Franck Woitiez, said they are delighted to work with the CEFC in their first investment in Australia.
“The CEFC’s ten years of experience developing Australia’s wind farm sector, combined with our deep expertise, enthusiasm and commitment to this market, will bring long term benefits to Australia, through clean energy generation, emissions reduction and economic opportunities,” Mr Woitiez said.
Golden Plains Wind Farm is the first fully merchant wind farm in Australia to be financed by commercial lenders, with the CEFC commercial debt package crowding in an additional $1.8 billion of private sector capital.
This includes 100 per cent equity from clean energy investor TagEnergy, in its first Australian investment. Debt providers include Westpac, Bank of China, Mizuho, German state-owned investment bank KfW, the Commonwealth Bank, and Danish Credit Export Agency EKF.
CEFC, Head of Wind Investment, Joe Harber, said their investment reflects the long term and successful CEFC investment strategy of supporting clean energy projects ahead of securing power purchase agreements.
“By offering a financial bridge between development and contracting, we can fast track the construction of these vital assets and make a meaningful contribution to emissions reduction,” Mr Harber said.
“We are particularly pleased to enable these commercial banks to reach financial close on their first fully merchant wind farm. By filling this significant financing gap for developers, CEFC capital is supporting the accelerated development of critical clean energy projects essential to our decarbonisation.”
CEFC’s investment marks its single largest investment in a wind project – which is also targeting its single largest emissions abatement.
Critically, the CEFC investment in Victoria’s Golden Plains Wind Farm also draws in substantial new investors at a time when Australia is accelerating its renewable energy ambitions.
Danish wind farm manufacturer and supplier Vestas will supply the wind turbines.
Golden Plains Wind Farm will be built in the South West Victoria Renewable Energy Zone, which the Australian Energy Marketing Operator has identified as having good access to existing network capacity, system strength and resource potential.
Construction is expected to begin in early 2023, with operations due to commence in 2025.
Featured image: Standing: Marla Brauer, Chief Operations Officer, WestWind Energy; Tony Narvaez, CEO AusNet; Chad Hymas, Chief Development Officer AusNet
Seated: Tobi Geiger, Managing Director, WestWind Energy; Franck Wottiez, CEO TagEnergy; Andrew Riggs, Managing Partner Ta Energy