Wind farm ready to power desalination plant in Sydney

The wind farm set to power Sydney’s desalination plant will begin operation this week and its owner Infigen Energy says similar projects will drive the company’s growth. The 67-turbine Capital wind farm, near Bungendore, east of Canberra, will be opened on Wednesday.

It will be the largest wind farm in NSW and is more than five times the size of any other wind farm in the state, Infigen says.

The wind farm has a capacity of 140.7 megawatts (MW) and its total output could power about 60,000 homes, although average output is expected to be slightly more than one third of full capacity.

Under a 20-year contract signed last year, the majority of Capital wind farm’s output will be used by Sydney Water to power its desalination plant at Kurnell, in the south suburbs of Sydney.

Infigen managing director Miles George said the desalination plant would use 40 MW of electricity when it began operating this summer, and that any left over power generated by the wind farm would go into the national electricity grid.

The opening marks a major milestone for Infigen, formerly known as Babcock & Brown Wind Partners until a management internalisation in April this year.

With four operational Australian wind farms on its books, another under construction and a further 12 in its project pipeline, the company says the federal government’s renewable energy targets will be the main driver for its future growth.

A major component would also be the supply of wind power to major infrastructure such as desalination plants, Mr George said.

"We expect that desalination plants will be a significant part of our business, going forward," he told AAP.

"It’s expected that there will be half a dozen or so still to come around the country.

"From our point of view, having large long-term customers who, like Sydney Water, are seeking to operate their plants in a carbon-neutral fashion … we think is a great prospect for our business."

Plans to sell Infigen’s wind farm assets in the United States, Germany and France are continuing on track, Mr George said.

The company intends to use the proceeds to pay down debt and focus primarily on the Australian renewable energy sector.

Infigen said in August the sale process was expected to take six months and possibly longer in the US.

"We are well into that process now, and the processes are going very well, there’s no change to our timetable," Mr George said.

"We mentioned at the outset that there was very strong interest from all three jurisdictions for those assets and that remains the case."

The company would provide a trading update for the financial year-to-date at its annual general meeting next week, he said.

Infigen Energy (“Infigen”) is a leading independent renewable energy business with interests in 41 wind farms (2,246MW installed capacity) across Australia, the US, Germany and France.

The social and political environment for renewable energy is particularly favourable. With the increased focus on sustainability and broader environmental concerns, renewable energy is now an essential and growing component of a low emission energy mix. The global wind energy industry in particular is experiencing significant growth – as demonstrated by a 29% increase in global installed capacity in 2008 and forecast average annual growth of 22% for the years 2009-2013.
Infigen, formerly known as Babcock & Brown Wind Partners (BBW), was initially formed in June 2003 and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in October 2005. On 29 April 2009, at an Extraordinary General Meeting, securityholders approved the name change to Infigen Energy.

The name Infigen is derived from the words infinite and generation: infinite reflecting the unlimited availability of renewable fuel sources such as wind; and generation relating to the core function of Infigen’s business – renewable energy generation.

The Infigen identity is inspired by what we do as a business: we harness natural, renewable energy from the environment. The ‘Energised Landscape’ represents the abundance of natural, sustainable energy and also hints at the scale of opportunity for Infigen’s business growth. Positioned on the horizon of this landscape is the ‘Infigen Window’ that symbolises the harnessing of this limitless energy source.