Con­struc­tion at the 123MW Mt Gel­li­brand Wind Farm is un­der­way – in large part due to Vic­to­ria’s clear re­new­able en­ergy pol­icy which pro­vides a strong in­vest­ment sig­nal to de­vel­op­ers.

The Australian Energy Review - - FRONT PAGE - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

IN late Au­gust, the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion set­ting new re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025; the first time such am­bi­tious tar­gets had been pre­scribed un­der State law in Aus­tralia.

To meet th­ese tar­gets, over the next few years Vic­to­ria will rely heav­ily on a net­work of new re­new­able en­ergy pro­jects to be brought on­line.

One of th­ese pro­jects is ACCIONA’s Mt Gel­li­brand wind farm, cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion in the State’s south west, 25km east of Co­lac.

Mt Gel­li­brand will be the Span­ish en­ergy com­pany’s fourth Aus­tralian wind project, fol­low­ing the 192MW Waubra wind farm in Vic­to­ria, 64MW Cathe­dral Rocks site in South Aus­tralia, and the 46.5MW Gun­ning devel­op­ment in NSW.

The project has been in plan­ning pipe­line for some time; ap­proved by the Govern­ment in 2006 for the devel­op­ment of up to 115 wind tur­bines.

In 2008 ACCIONA ob­tained the devel­op­ment rights to the project, re­duc­ing the num­ber of tur­bines from 115 to 44.

In July last year the project was pushed for­ward when the com­pany won a ten­der for the State Govern­ment to pur­chase green en­ergy cer­tifi­cates for 66MW for up to 10 years.

Con­struc­tion is now well and truly un­der­way, with first pro­duc­tion slated for mid-2018.

Project up­dates

In April, ACCIONA con­trac­tors WBHO and Civilex be­gan civil con­struc­tion works on site.

The works in­cluded build­ing 27km of in­ter­nal ac­cess track roads, 92,000sqm of tur­bine hard­stand ar­eas, and more than 16,000 cu­bic me­tres of struc­tural con­crete as­so­ci­ated with the tur­bine foun­da­tions.

Speak­ing to The Aus­tralian En­ergy Re­view in Septem­ber, ACCIONA man­ag­ing direc­tor An­drew Thom­son said con­struc­tion was “pro­gress­ing well”.

“Most of the roads are now com­plete, and just un­der half the foun­da­tions have been poured,” Mr Thom­son said.

“Medium volt­age retic­u­la­tion works have com­menced along with substation con­struc­tion, and the site is pre­par­ing to take de­liv­er­ies of main tur­bine com­po­nen­try from late Septem­ber.”

Mr Thom­son said the re­main­der of the year will be spent com­plet­ing the civil works, con­tin­u­ing the elec­tri­cal works and begin­ning tur­bine erec­tion.

The first tur­bine erec­tion was ex­pected late 2017, with com­mis­sion­ing ac­tiv­i­ties sched­uled to be­gin early next year af­ter the substation was com­plete.

The wind farm it­self will form an ‘L’ shape and be po­si­tioned to the west and south of the Mt Gel­li­brand site, which com­prises eight pri­vately owned prop­er­ties, pre­dom­i­nately used for live­stock graz­ing and crop­ping.

“We are on track for a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion date (COD) for the first 66MW by 1 July 2018, and COD for the sec­ond 66MW by 1 Au­gust the same year,” Mr Thom­son said.

Once com­plete, the wind farm would gen­er­ate enough en­ergy to power about 60,000 homes and avoid emis­sions of about 200,000 met­ric tons of car­bon diox­ide to the at­mos­phere from coal-fired power sta­tions.

Com­mu­nity boost

In ad­di­tion to help­ing Vic­to­ria meet its re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets, Mt Gel­li­brand will pro­vide a sig­nif­i­cant boost to lo­cal jobs in the re­gion.

“We cur­rently have more than 100 peo­ple work­ing on­site, which will in­crease to more than 130 in the com­ing months,” Mr Thom­son said.

“Mt Gel­li­brand is gen­er­at­ing em­ploy­ment and new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties across the project.

“It’s a real in­vest­ment in the com­mu­nity, with lo­cal con­tent pro­vi­sions built into the sup­ply contracts to max­imise eco­nomic ben­e­fits.”

Once the project be­comes op­er­a­tional, ACCIONA ex­pects to em­ploy 10 on­go­ing full time equiv­a­lent peo­ple on site.

“Over the course of the project we pre­dict a to­tal spend of about $10 mil­lion di­rectly in the Co­lac Ot­way Shire,” Mr Thom­son said.

The project has also pro­vided sup­port for lo­cal sport­ing and com­mu­nity groups, com­mu­nity events and schools through a Com­mu­nity Ben­e­fit Fund set up for the op­er­a­tional life of the project to share the ben­e­fits with the towns sur­round­ing the devel­op­ment.

With such a valu­able con­tri­bu­tions such as th­ese al­ready made, Mr Thom­son en­cour­aged the Fed­eral Govern­ment to adopt a “clear pol­icy” so more re­new­able

“We are on track for a com­mer­cial op­er­a­tion date (COD) for the first 66MW by 1 July 2018, and COD for the sec­ond 66MW by 1 Au­gust the same year.”

en­ergy de­vel­op­ments could be brought into pro­duc­tion.

“In light of the cur­rent de­bate around en­ergy mat­ters, we would strongly rec­om­mend a com­pre­hen­sive and bi­par­ti­san na­tional en­ergy pol­icy in this coun­try,” he said.

“It should be noted that Mt Gel­li­brand only came to fruition be­cause of a clear pol­icy at state level, with Vic­to­ria giv­ing an in­vest­ment sig­nal to com­pa­nies like us to go ahead and de­velop pro­jects in the state.

“We re­ally need a long-term na­tional pol­icy with sim­i­lar aims.”

All images: ACCIONA.

The foun­da­tions be­ing laid for the wind farm base.

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