POWER UP

Months out from bring­ing its fourth Aus­tralian wind farm, Mt Gel­li­brand, into op­er­a­tion, Span­ish en­ergy com­pany ACCIONA is gear­ing up for its next wave of growth op­tions.

The Australian Energy Review - - FRONT PAGE - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

CON­STRUC­TION on the $258 mil­lion Mt Gel­li­brand project is ad­vanc­ing fast with the site vis­ually trans­form­ing day-by-day.

In De­cem­ber, ACCIONA cel­e­brated a long-awaited mile­stone with the first tower erected on site.

By mid-fe­bru­ary four tur­bines were com­plete with blades, 13 were com­plete to the na­celle, and the re­main­der were go­ing up at a rate of be­tween two and three a week.

“Mt Gel­li­brand is pro­gress­ing well,” ACCIONA En­ergy’s newly ap­pointed man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Brett Wick­ham said.

“The sub­sta­tion’s main power trans­form­ers have been as­sem­bled and elec­tri­cal ca­ble in­stal­la­tion is on sched­ule.

“There will be a to­tal of 44 tur­bines at the con­clu­sion of the erec­tion process, and we’re still on track for July.”

All go­ing well, the project was sched­uled to be­gin com­mis­sion­ing in April, and once in ser­vice mid-year will de­liver 429 gi­gawatt-hours (GWH) of en­ergy a year pow­er­ing about 60,000 homes and avoid­ing the emis­sion of 412,000 tonnes of car­bon diox­ide into the at­mos­phere.

It’s been a mam­moth ef­fort; each blade alone weighs about 17.5t, while the four tower sec­tions col­lec­tively tip the scales at 220t.

And across the com­plete in­stal­la­tion process, more than 18,000t of tur­bine in­fras­truc­ture will be moved into place.

Mr Wick­ham came on as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor in Novem­ber, af­ter spend­ing the last 12 years work­ing as a com­pany di­rec­tor in Aus­tralia, Spain, and South Africa.

Mr Wick­ham said it was great to be back in Aus­tralia af­ter spend­ing five years in South Africa and Spain.

“Work­ing with ACCIONA in­ter­na­tion­ally, I’ve been ex­posed to projects, tech­nolo­gies and mar­kets across our global port­fo­lio,” he said.

“This ex­pe­ri­ence fur­ther re­in­forces ACCIONA’S com­mit­ment to Aus­tralia, which dates back to 2002.

“Aus­tralia con­tin­ues to be a coun­try where ACCIONA wants to grow and fur­ther in­vest.”

The new com­pany head has a big task ahead of him, with a num­ber of projects at var­i­ous stages of the plan­ning pipe­line, as well as var­i­ous projects through ACCIONA’S new Geotech business.

Mr Wick­ham said since acquiring Geotech in March 2017, the business has had a “suc­cess­ful year”.

“Just be­fore Christ­mas they signed two very im­por­tant con­tracts – the Bal­larat Line Upgrade and the South­ern Pro­gram Al­liance level cross­ing re­moval project, both in Vic­to­ria,” he said.

“They are also in­volved in the joint ven­ture be­tween Gran­so­lar and ACCIONA In­dus­trial, which is set to con­struct one of Aus­tralia’s largest pho­to­voltaic plants at Li­ly­vale in QLD.

“Suf­fice to say, the business is go­ing well and there’s more [projects] to come – they have a great team and great po­ten­tial.”

Growth Op­tions

The Li­ly­vale so­lar farm, owned by Fo­towa­tio Re­new­able Ventures, will have a ca­pac­ity of 100 Mwac, mak­ing it one of Aus­tralia’s largest pho­to­voltaic plants.

In Oc­to­ber last year, ACCIONA an­nounced it would, in part­ner­ship with Gran­so­lar, com­plete con­struc­tion of the project.

Works have al­ready be­gun and the project was set to be com­pleted by the end of this year.

ACCIONA’S next de­vel­op­ment will be its Mort­lake South wind farm, which has been in the works since 2008 when the com­pany first lodged a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion.

All images: ACCIONA.

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