GREEN DEALS: King win

The King Island wind farm moves to the feasibility study stage; Silex takes a big stride forward in Mildura and there's progress at a couple of wind farms in New South Wales.

Hydro Tasmania, King Island wind farm

On the back of a study finding 58.7 per cent of residents support a feasibility study into a proposed $2 billion wind farm on King Island, Hydro Tasmania has made such a commitment.

Hydro Tasmania pushed a board meeting forward from Wednesday to Monday to provide a quick answer to residents following the vote. And the result was a unanimous ‘yes’ from the board for a feasibility study to progress.

As mentioned on Green Deals previously, the likelihood of a majority supporting the development progressing to a feasibility study was high. And while it didn’t quite reach the 60 per cent mark previously indicated in The Mercury as being a key threshold, it was still a vote of support.

Hydro Tasmania explained that the 60 per cent number was a broad target that was widely misinterpreted as being the minimum number.

“I know some have implied that the figure of 60 is a number that will determine if the project goes ahead or not,” Hydro Tasmania’s Andrew Catchpole said. “However, we have always said that 60 per cent would be a good indication of broad community support. We got 59 per cent and that is a very good result.”

The feasibility study will take two years to complete and provided it is deemed feasible and retains community support, Hydro Tasmania will look to begin construction in 2017. The project would take around two years to build, meaning that we could see it providing power to the grid in 2019.

“While we believe the project if it proceeds to construction will have a significant and positive impact on the island’s economy there is a long way to go before that happens,” Mr Catchpole said.

“I can only repeat that this project will not proceed without ongoing broad community support.”

Silex Systems

Silex Systems subsidiary Solar Systems has completed Australia’s largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power station. The development, in Victoria’s north-west, has a capacity of 1.5 MW and uses 40 CPV ‘Dense Array’ dish systems.

It is a key development toward the goal of building a 100 MW solar power station in Mildura.

“The completion of the Mildura facility is a major step forward in the commercialisation of Solar Systems’ unique ‘Dense Array’ CPV technology,” Silex CEO Dr Michael Goldsworthy said. “All 40 dish systems have been successfully commissioned and are operational, with clean energy now feeding into the national electricity grid.”

From here Silex plans to validate performance efficiency, energy yields and reliability at the Mildura facility (and a similar one in Saudi Arabia) for 12 months before commencing the Mildura stage 2 100MW solar power station project towards the end of next year. This is contingent on securing a power purchase agreement and the finalisation of funding arrangements.

The company is also looking to secure other major project opportunities (in the 10 to 50MW range) in Australia, and is currently at the pre-feasibility stage for prospective sites in Queensland.

Commentary on the development from Tristan Edis can be found here.

Infigen Energy

Infigen Energy has welcomed positive news on its planned 33-turbine, 99 MW Bodangora wind farm, receiving conditional approval from the New South Wales Department of Planning.

The Department of Planning’s approval report, which included around 100 conditions, is now with the Planning Assessment Commission, which is likely to convene a public meeting before making a final decision.

CBD, Taralga wind farm

CBD Energy has signed an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract and maintenance contract with an unnamed “leading global wind turbine generator supplier” for the Taralga Wind Farm project in New South Wales.

The value of the contract is not known, however the Taralga project – a joint venture between CBD (10%) and Banco Santander (90%) – will cost approximately $280 million.

The project will take 18 months to construct and is planned for commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2014.