Golden Plains – the largest wind project in the southern Hemisphere with development approvals – says it has reached two important milestones, with an equity deal with TagEnergy, and a supply and construction deal with global wind giant Vestas.
The $3 billion Golden Plains project will feature a wind farm of around 1,300MW, and is also eyeing a 300MW big battery, and is based around Rokewood near Geelong. And while it does have planning approval, it is also facing yet another court challenge from local opponents.
The equity deal is with TagEnergy, a newly formed development company which is headed by Franck Woitiez, the former head of Neoen Australia.
TagEnergy, part of France’s ImpalaSAS group, will take a “vast” majority stake in the project and provide capital for construction, but the price has not been disclosed.
The deal with Vestas includes the supply of 122 6.2MW turbines for the first stage of the project, and a 30 year service and maintenance deal. Vestas will also be responsible for building the project.
It will eventually have more than 220 turbines, making it the biggest in Australia, although that ranking may be challenged by huge off-grid projects designed for energy export and green hydrogen opportunities.
The Golden Plains project has been brought this far by WestWind Energy, a development company that is also behind the Moorabool, Lal Lal and Mt Mercer wind farms. It will continue to manage the asset for TagEnergy.
WestWind says it has been working on the project for more than 15 years, and says it enjoys broad community support.
However, it has faced numerous court challenges, including an appeal to the High Court, but now faces a new Supreme Court challenge despite receiving final development approval late last year that took into account some amendments.
The project could also feature a 300MW battery storage facility that will add flexibility and stability to the grid, although it has not revealed the planned storage duration, although this is likely to be at least two hours.
WestWind says the overall project will be built in two phases, generating more than 700 direct jobs. It hopes construction will commence by June this year, with the first electrons fed into the grid in 2024.
The area enjoys a strong wind resource and has a high voltage 500kv powerline that runs directly adjacent to the southern boundary of the site
“It’s a huge project, and it needs a big team to deliver it,” WestWind’s Tobias Geiger told RenewEconomy.
“We’ve got an extremely supportive community at Golden Plains, with the land holders, and the shire. Everybody can’t wait to get the show on the road.”
Geiger says TagEnergy will finance the project on a merchant basis, and look for power purchase agreements down the track, and it is also a bidder into the latest state government renewable energy auction.
“If we succeed with that, it will mean more local content and local jobs,” Geiger said. “One of my frustrations is the stop-start nature of the industry which has meant it is very hard for local suppliers to build up capacity.
TagEnergy CEO Franck Woitiez said TagEnergy is rapidly growing its pipeline of projects across multiple international markets, and it now has a portfolio of 2GW of storage, solar and wind projects in the UK, Australia, Spain, Portugal and France,
“We are delighted to partner with WestWind to deliver what will be a landmark clean energy project for Victoria and Australia at a scale never seen before in the Southern Hemisphere,” Woitiez said in a statement.