Vestas chosen for Australian wind farm

Ireland-based renewables specialist DP Energy has named Denmark’s Vestas, and local engineers Downer Group, to spearhead the development of what it has said will be Australia’s largest combined wind and solar power plant.

Wind turbines will contribute 220 MW of the first phase 375 MW hybrid plant to be built in Port Augusta, South Australia, at an estimated cost of A$600 million (US$458 million), Ireland-based DP Energy said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2018 and will create 250 jobs, DP Energy said.

The wind component of the project will be largely driven by thermal winds coming off the sea, with wind strength increasing throughout the day. This means energy production peaks early evening when demand for power is greatest, the company’s CEO, Simon De Pietro, said.

A second phase will add 300 MW solar capacity and battery storage capacity of 400 MW.

“The South Australian government, led by Premier Jay Weatherill, has been criticised by many in the business community for being too aggressive in embracing renewable energy at the expense of reliability and cheaper electricity prices, with the state the most advanced in renewable energy,” the Australian Financial Review said.

The state suffered power blackouts in 2016 following the closure of thermal power plants (TPPs), including one in Port Augusta, and a devastating storm which knocked out a number of wind turbine operations. Renewable energy now provides 40% of the state’s power and the Adelaide government has said it wants to raise this to 50%.

There are concerns that without battery storage improvements, the replacement of baseload power supply from TOOs with intermittent wind power would jeopardise supply to industry.

Unlisted DP Energy, which operates renewable facilities in Ireland, Scotland and Canada, said its Port Augusta project when completed will produce 1,000 GWh per year, enough to power 200,000 homes.