ACT News

Rebirth for region's renewables after RET deal

Developers believe dormant wind farm projects ,valued at a combined $1 billion across the capital region, were set to be reawakened by the agreement on a renewable energy target last week.

After more than 18 months of deep uncertainty as the target was reviewed and lowered, 10 proposed wind farms in the Southern Tablelands now have a greater chance of being financed and built. 

CWP Renewables managing director Alex Hewitt said the second stage of the company's Boco Rock wind farm, south of Cooma, was now expected to go ahead once the agreement from the Coalition and Labor for a national 33,000 gigawatt hours target passed the Senate. 

"It's been frozen, as have other projects of ours," he said. 

"We've dropped one or two projects in the portfolio, outside the ACT region, and we've also had to downsize the company a little.

"But with bipartisan support, financing will come."

Advertisement

Figures from the Clean Energy Council last year show nearby NSW projects either approved or in planning, together with the two announced solar farms in the ACT, would be worth about $32 million to the community during their construction phase and nearly $970 million combined across their operating lives. About 800 jobs would be required during construction.  

Infigen Energy development general manager David Griffin said a degree of uncertainty remained until laws passed, but the company's Capital 2 wind farm and Capital solar farm – approved in 2011 and 2010 respectively for sites north of Bungendore were now expected to get the backing to move to construction. 

Mr Griffin said the 33,000 GW/h target agreement provided no elation. 

"It's very disappointing that it hasn't remained at 41 terawatt​ hours which was the position of both major parties prior to election – but having the 33 TW/h target does allow our projects to progress and quite a number of projects nationally will now be built," he said.

Almost all of the region's large-scale renewable energy projects not in construction – excluding those protected by an ACT government feed-in tariff – were found to be at risk of never being built last August. 

The approved projects had a combined 740 megawatt capacity, triple the production power of the region's then-operational renewable projects.  

A spokesman for Union Fenosa, which has plans to build two wind farms at Crookwell, said the RET certainty improved the outlook for renewables developments but did not guarantee the success of any individual project.

"Financial close for projects near Canberra will most likely be on the basis of winning a Feed-In-Tariff or a power purchase agreement with a retailer," he said.

Developers rejected the idea by some crossbench senators to block wind power out of a portion of the target in exchange for the senators' backing of the Coalition's plan to include the burning of native timber wood waste in the target.

The Labor and Greens have opposed the proposed inclusion of the burning in the creation of renewable energy certificates.