Profitable future for South Australian wind-farm development

Commercially profitable wind-farm development opportunities have been identified in South Australia, according to new analysis by independent market analysts ROAM Consulting.

The study has found that up to 1050 MW of additional new wind development is likely to be commercially profitable (approximately 2300 MW in total) if connected to the existing electricity transmission network in areas with high-quality wind resources and available transmission network capability, such as South Australia’s mid-north region.

The modelling includes a -5 per cent by 2020 carbon price trajectory (similar to the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future policy proposal) and was found to be relatively robust to changes in the level of the carbon price and variations in peak demand.

South Australian transmitter ElectraNet chief executive officer Ian Stirling said the state is on course to continue as the national leader in the cost-effective transmission grid connection of renewable energy sources.

“ElectraNet delivers reliable and value-for-money electricity transmission services to support a sustainable and prosperous South Australian community. Since 2004 we have led the nation in supporting renewable energy developments, connecting 13 wind farm generators to South Australia’s high-voltage transmission network,” Mr Stirling said.

The capacity of commercially profitable wind would increase further under a high-energy growth scenario (including developmentts such as the Olympic Dam expansion project or other mining loads), with up to 1400 MW of additional wind capacity (approximately 2600 MW in total) likely to be profitable.

The study reveals that the most significant other factor that would act to increase the potential for additional profitable wind generation in South Australia is increased interconnection capacity between South Australia and Victoria. Additional retirement of coal-fired generation and energy storage technologies in South Australia would also increase the potential for more wind generation.

ElectraNet is currently working with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to apply the Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T) to a proposed 200 MW upgrade of the Haywood Interconnector between South Australia and Victoria (a 40 per cent increase in transfer capacity, which will provide additional support for South Australia at times of peak demand and also support higher levels of generation development in South Australia).

A RIT-T project specification consultation report is expected to be published in November for comment by market participants and interested parties, and will be made available on ElectraNet’s website.