Following the money, not hot air, for more wind farms

Marion Rae |

The Golden Plains Wind Farm will provide nine per cent of Victoria’s energy when completed in 2027.
The Golden Plains Wind Farm will provide nine per cent of Victoria’s energy when completed in 2027.

Australia’s green bank is helping to fast-track construction of the nation’s largest wind farm to decarbonise the electricity grid, despite political squabbling.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on Wednesday announced a further $127.5 million investment in TagEnergy’s $4 billion Golden Plains Wind Farm in Victoria that will provide nine per cent of the state’s energy when completed in mid-2027.

With finance and all agreements in place for the mega-project’s 1333 megawatts, construction of the 93 wind turbines for stage two will begin, bringing more than 350 workers on site about 60km northwest of Geelong.

TagEnergy said it was buoyed by the federal government’s capacity investment scheme (CIS), the national framework for encouraging investment in clean energy projects.

Golden Plains, the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, “materially improves Victoria’s energy security, puts downward pressure on electricity costs and dramatically reduces carbon pollution”, TagEnergy’s Australia managing partner Andrew Riggs said.

“The supportive policy landscape created by the CIS has given us confidence to start construction of Golden Plains stage two now,” he said.

An engineering, procurement and construction contract has been signed with global turbine supplier Vestas, AusNet Services has been appointed for grid connection works, and WestWind Energy as the asset manager.

Mr Riggs said the Australian Energy Market Operator, working with Vestas, had increased the pace of the assessment and approval process for grid connection – reducing it from nine months to five – and contributing to the “speed and economics” of the energy transition.

Golden Plains stage one is expected to start producing green energy in the first quarter of 2025 and, when complete, the wind farm will power more than 750,000 homes – the equivalent of every home in regional Victoria.

Meanwhile the federal government on Tuesday approved another new wind farm in Queensland, the 400MW Gawara Baya Wind Farm 65km southwest of Ingham, which includes the installation of 69 wind turbines.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the Queensland project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 1.2 million tonnes a year – equivalent to taking 375,000 cars off the road every year.

“I’ve ticked off a record 54 renewable energy projects – more than the Abbott and Turnbull Governments combined and enough to power more than three million Australian homes,” she said.

“Not only are we delivering cheaper cleaner power sooner, but we are on track to reaching our 2030 emissions target.”

With a federal election due in less than a year, the coalition continues to drum up political opposition to the 82 per cent by 2030 renewable energy target, preferring to build nuclear reactors to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

“They will be where existing coal-fired power stations are because we don’t want to build an extra 28,000 kilometres of transmission lines,” Nationals leader David Littleproud said.

“Our plan will be very clear, when we announce it,” he said, while rejecting plans for wind farms off the coast of NSW.