The renewed dynamism of the Australian wind market
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been making life tough for wind developers and investors. He publicly blamed wind farms for a series of blackouts in South Australia in late 2016 and early 2017 in the face of evidence to the contrary.
Despite that high-level hostility, the wind sector in the country has been incredibly active lately, and regional governments and companies have been driving this renewed dynamism in the sector. Turnbull’s hostility has, so far, proved an irrelevance.
For example, this week Australian farming business Nectar Farms unveiled a plan to grow its greenhouse facility in the state of Victoria from 10 to 40 hectares, and entirely power it with wind energy. It has chosen French developer Neoen to develop a 196MW wind farm and a 20MW battery storage facility as part of the its A$350m ($265m) Bulgana Green Power Hub.
And Neoen has customers for all of the electricity from the 196MW project already. Nectar is set to use 10% of the power produced, and the state government of Victoria has signed a memorandum of understanding to send the remaining 90% to the local grid.
The Victorian government sees the project as a way to help it hit a target of gaining 25% of its electricity from renewables by 2020 and 40% by 2025. And this is not the only scheme.
Earlier this month, Victoria backed a plan by local developer Offshore Energy to build the first Australian offshore wind farm off the coast of Gippsland in eastern Victoria. The project is still at a very early stage, but could include 250 turbines with total capacity of 2GW.
This activity in Victoria demonstrates how important state governments and corporates are in Australia’s wind renaissance. Under Turnbull’s predecessor Tony Abbott, the country’s wind sector ground to a halt. It is no longer the case – and, for that, we should be grateful.