Wind power in Australia: Engie’s 119MW Willogoleche wind farm formally opens

South Australia’s 119 MW Willogoleche wind farm was officially opened, marking completion of the latest big renewables project for French developer Engie, and the first onshore wind energy deployment of GE’s 3.8MW wind turbines at scale.

The wind power project, which installed 32 of the 150 metre tall wind turbines near Hallett in the state’s mid-north, has been completed by Engie and JV partner Mitsui & Co, two years after it was announced in 2017 – the same year the company closed its Hazelwood coal plant in Victoria.

South Australia energy minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan took a break from approving a spate of large-scale solar and storage projects to help launch the wind farm, which he described as another significant addition to the state’s impressive portfolio of wind power and solar.

“Willogoleche’s 119 MW capacity will put downward pressure on prices by increasing competition in the South Australia’s energy market,” he said.

“The wind power project adds momentum to the case for associated grid-scale storage and an interconnector between SA and NSW to enable the export of South Australia’s abundant renewable energy to the eastern seaboard.”

Engie says power generated by the wind farm will be delivered via its own retail power arm, Simply Energy, which has more than 700,000 customers in Australia, including nearly 90,000 in South Australia.

The company says the GE wind turbines’ 130 metre rotor blades can operate through a range of wind speeds, allowing each wind turbine to maximise its generation capacity.

“Willogoleche is the latest demonstration of Engie’s long-term commitment to South Australia… (and) significantly increases our local generation capacity to deliver more renewable energy to our growing customer base in the state,” Engie’s Asia Pacific president and CEO Paul Maguire said.

“This opening marks another milestone in our continuing transition across the Asia-Pacific region toward low-carbon energy production and the pursuit of growth opportunities through providing energy efficient and multi-technical solutions to customers.”

Engie also noted that it had more than 800MW of “wind-firming capacity” available in South Australia, that was making a critical contribution to the state’s energy security and stability.

This presumably includes the company’s 500MW Pelican Point gas power station, which has just been upgraded, and the 156MW Dry Creek gas “peaking” plant in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.

As we reported here, the Dry Creek unit last year caused Engie to be fined by the Australian Energy Regulator for failing to respond to market directions during a major network fault in December 2017.

And earlier this year, Engie’s Simply Energy was named by the Clean Energy Regulator alongside four other major retailers for failing to meet its renewable energy target obligations in 2018.

In addition to Willogoleche, Engie operates the 46 MW Canunda Wind Farm in South Australia and has renewable energy projects under development in Queensland and New South Wales.

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie Vorrath

Sophie is editor of One Step Off The Grid and deputy editor of its sister site, Renew Economy. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.