The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has confirmed investment commitments of almost $1 billion in Australia’s wind sector, delivering 2GW of wind energy across regional Australia.
The latest investment is a $180 million commitment to the Collector Wind Farm in south-eastern NSW, with the CEFC’s role as sole debt financier supporting the accelerated delivery of the innovative circa $360 million project.
CEFC wind sector lead Andrew Gardner said CEFC investments in large-scale wind developments have tracked a remarkable level of innovation and change in the sector.
“While our earliest finance supported projects, which had secured only partial off-take agreements, we are now working on hybrid projects that bring together wind, solar and storage, as well as projects that are seeking new style off-take agreements with large corporates.
Related article: Five minutes with CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth
“These developments have driven considerable infrastructure investment in regional areas, while creating long-term assets that capitalise on Australia’s natural wind resources.
“Wind developers are also contributing significant additional investment to local communities through long-term community development funds. In the case of Collector, this will see $240,000 injected into the local community each year.”
The Collector Wind Farm is located along the Cullerin Range south-west of Goulburn, which boasts some of the windiest conditions in NSW. With 54 wind turbines, the project is expected to generate in the order of 528GWh of energy annually, enough to meet the needs of around 80,000 average homes.
Mr Gardner said that as sole debt financier to the project, the CEFC had enabled it to reach financial close on a fully merchant basis, ahead of securing energy offtake contracts.
“Finance for fully merchant projects unlocks further wind sector opportunities and builds confidence in their longer-term commercial potential,” Mr Gardner added.
“This development has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 9.3 million tonnes over its lifetime, making a significant contribution to efforts to lower carbon emissions across our economy. We are pleased to see CEFC finance continuing to fill a significant finance gap for developers, with our capital supporting accelerated project development before off-take contracts are locked in.”
Related article: Vestas launches huge drone inspection campaign in Scandinavia
The Collector Wind Farm is being developed by RATCH-Australia and is located near, and will connect into, major NSW network transmission facilities. As part of the investment agreement with the CEFC, RATCH-Australia will install storage capability at its 42.5MW Collinsville solar project in Queensland to improve grid stability in the region. The CEFC has previously provided finance to the Collinsville project.
The Collector development will be one of the first in Australia to use the 4.2MW V117 Vestas turbines. In addition, Vestas will use innovative drone and 3D imaging technology to deliver routine blade maintenance and data collection.
A RATCH-Australia Community Enhancement Fund will invest $240,000 into local projects each year over the 30-year life of the project. The funds will be invested into the region via a pair of community trusts that have been structured with significant involvement of the local community.