GREEN DEALS: Renewables rush

News from the RET Review is great for the clean tech sector as there's news from Silverton wind farm, Australia's largest, and plans to build a wind farm at the Gunns pulp mill site. Meanwhile, Australia's only solar plant opens and the world's biggest offshore wind project produces its first electricity.

The renewable energy sector breathed a collective sigh of relief on Friday, with news the Climate Change Authority is keen for the renewable energy target to largely remain unchanged. It is big news for the sector, with the large-scale target set to be the driver of billions of dollars in renewables investment.

To see how important, take a look at clean energy investment in Australia since the RET was expanded in 2009. It’s quite a pretty picture.

Silverton wind farm

The locations of the turbines for part one of the Silverton wind farm will be chosen in the next 5-6 months, residents from the town have been told. The first part of what is likely to eventually be Australia’s largest wind farm will be a 250 MW development with 75-100 turbines. It has development approval for up to 1 GW.

AGL's manager of power development, Neil Cooke, told the ABC that progress was going to plan, which is likely to see development in 2015.

“We're expecting to move forward with the Silverton Wind Farm as we've been communicating since we purchased Silverton Wind Farm Holdings," he said.

"We're expecting that the project will go to the AGL board around Q3 2013, and the board's decision will be based on market conditions."

Gunns wind farm?

The Gunns pulp mill was one of the most controversial development proposals ever seen in this country, but with the company now entering administration a new firm has popped up with grand plans for the site – and ones that seem to have everyone on-side.

A 100-turbine wind farm has been floated by start-up Tamar Valley Renewables, which has reportedly spoken to potential investors as well as Gunns administrators about the prospect with discussions positive to date. There’s a long way between discussions and project reality however, and we shall see what comes of it in coming months and years.

Tindo Solar

Australia’s only solar panel manufacturing plant has been opened in Adelaide, by Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Operated by start-up Tindo Solar, the company believes the plant can meet 15-20 per cent of the panel needs of Australia. It is confident it can match the costs of panels from China.

Tindo Solar was set up by former Solar Shop founder Adrian Ferraretto.

King Island renewables project

The first stage of a major renewables project on King Island was opened last Friday by Hydro Tasmania.

The $46 million King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project is set to reduce diesel consumption for power generation by more than 65 per cent and provide the capability to generate all of King Island’s power needs using renewable energy (when conditions allow).

“The unique part of this system is the integration of technologies,” Hydro Tasmania Chairman Dr David Crean said. “Although the renewable generation sources such as wind, solar and bio-diesel are mature, the enabling and storage technologies are new and emerging.”

“The way these technologies are being used and integrated is world-leading.”

The project will be completed by the end of 2013 and Hydro Tasmania is looking to export the energy solution to utility and mining customers in Australia, the Pacific and the South East Asia region.

World’s biggest offshore wind farm

The London Array project, the world’s biggest offshore wind farm to date, has produced its first electricity.

The project is to be built in two phases, and when complete it is likely to be 870 MW in size (the first phase will be 630 MW).

The first 151 turbines have powered up, with the other 24 in the first stage of construction to be powered up before the end of the year.

The project is owned by DONG Energy, E.ON and Masdar.

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