Coopers Gap Wind Farm reaches financial close

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Queensland’s large-scale renewable energy industry has reached a new milestone, as Australia’s largest wind plan Coopers Gap Wind Farm reaches financial close.

AGL Energy announced it has reached financial close on the sale to the Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF) of the 453MW Coopers Gap Wind Farm project at Cooranga North, approximately 250km north west of Brisbane.

The $22 million sale of the project into PARF includes AGL writing a power purchase agreement at a bundled (i.e. including both electricity and associated renewable energy certificates) offtake price of less than $60/MWh (real) for an initial five years. There is a put/call option to extend for the following five years at the same or lower price. AGL expects to recognise nil profit on sale from the transaction.

AGL has named a joint venture consisting of GE and Catcon as the successful tenderer for the engineering procurement contract. AGL and GE/Catcon will develop the wind farm with construction expected to begin in late-2017 and full operation targeted by the middle of the 2019 calendar year.

Treasurer and Acting Energy Minister, Curtis Pitt, welcomed AGL’s announcement that the Coopers Gap Wind Farm will proceed to construction having achieved this significant milestone.

Mr Pitt said this a significant announcement and a vote of confidence in Queensland’s energy sector because the 453 megawatt wind farm would be the largest wind farm in Australia once constructed.

“The Coopers Gap Wind Farm, located at Cooranga North in the Darling Downs, is a huge investment of approximately $850 million that will support up to 200 jobs during construction and up to 20 ongoing operational jobs,” Mr Pitt said.

“Renewables are now undeniably the cheapest form of new generation to build, and this project is also proof that costs continue to fall – with AGL confirming a cost of less than $60 per MW/h.

“Once constructed the wind farm will produce approximately 1,510,000MWh of renewable energy annually, which can power more than 260,000 Australian homes, with the additional supply helping to put downward pressure on wholesale prices.

“I’m pleased to confirm that arrangements for connection of the Coopers Gap Wind Farm to Powerlink Queensland’s electricity transmission network are now in place, with a new substation to be constructed – an example of the key role our Government Owned Corporations play to support this new industry.”

AGL Managing Director and CEO, Andy Vesey, said more than 800 MW of projects have now been vended into PARAF, since its inception in July 2016, following the earlier transactions involving the Silverton Wind Farm project, and Nyngan and Broken Hill solar plants in New South Wales.

“The strong support we have received from our equity partners and lenders for these projects is testament to the readiness of the private sector to invest in Australia‘s energy transformation,” Mr Vesey said.

“Certainty on energy policy, including the implementation of the recommendations of the Finkel Review, will enable more projects of this kind to go ahead and help place downward pressure on energy prices by increasing supply.”

Powering Queensland’s future

Mr Pitt said the Queensland Government had kick-started the renewable energy industry in Queensland, with the Powering Queensland Plan and commitment to achieving 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“There are 19 other renewable energy projects financially committed or under construction in Queensland,” Mr Pitt said.

“This pipeline of projects will bring strong benefits to regional Queensland, including $2.6 billion of investment, over 2,500 construction jobs and once operational they will more than double Queensland’s large-scale renewable energy capacity, helping put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices.

“We are leading the nation in large-scale renewable energy projects under construction or starting in 2017 – we have the most megawatts, most investment and most jobs.

“Our comprehensive $1.16 billion Powering Queensland Plan retains electricity assets in public ownership, promotes Queensland’s sustainable energy mix including coal, gas and renewables, and provides power bill concessions to vulnerable Queenslanders.”

Mr Pitt said in addition to the Coopers Gap Wind Farm project, two solar farms had also reached a major milestone this week.

“Two new major North Queensland solar farms – Edify Energy’s Hayman and Daydream Solar Farm reached financial close and finalised connection arrangements to Powerlink’s transmission network,” Mr Pitt said.

“Daydream and Hayman Solar Farm will be connected to Powerlink’s 275kV network near Collinsville. The solar farms are owned in partnership with BlackRock, with Edify Energy providing construction management and long-term asset management.”

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