‘$1.78bn wind farm investment for south-west’

This article comes from the Warrnambool Standard. Journalist Alexandra Weaver.

$1.78bn wind farm investment for south-west

CORANGAMITE MP Darren Cheeseman has described the renewable energy industry as the south-west’s most important jobs and investment driver.

His comments follow a new investment statement from Union Fenosa Wind Australia that reveals the company is planning to spend $1.78 billion on local wind farms.

Its projects are tipped to create 650 construction jobs and 83 ongoing positions within the region once complete and will have a total generation capacity of 904 megawatts. Three of the five sites, Berrybank, Hawkesdale and Ryan Corner near Port Fairy, have received state government approval, while projects at Tarrone and Darlington are in the planning phase.

“This investment figure of $1.8 billion into south-west Victoria is by just one renewable energy company and there are several other renewable companies lining up to invest comparative amounts in south-west Victoria,” Mr Cheeseman said.

“No other industry on the horizon promises so much investment and so many jobs as renewable energy for our region, particularly for trades and construction workers and their families.”

Mr Cheeseman said carbon pricing was the key to making renewable energy competitive and unlocking employment.

“Because of our region’s wealth of wind and other renewable energy sources the power generation heartland in Victoria will shift from the Latrobe Valley to south-west Victoria, and all the trades jobs associated with that will move to our region,” he said.

Union Fenosa has estimated a carbon price of about $30 a tonne would allow Australia to make a meaningful shift towards a cleaner economy.

“A price on carbon would encourage more competitive generation solutions in the national energy mix from renewable energy technologies that are currently only supported by the extended renewable energy target policy,” its investment statement reads.

“This policy created a mechanism that suffered a market failure due to the oversupply of the renewable energy certificates (RECs) from small-scale renewable generations.

“The volatility in the RECs market and ongoing uncertainty in the energy market in relation to the carbon price had impeded the progress of a large number of wind farm projects and has contributed to the delay in investments.”

According to the Department of Primary Industries, Victorian wind farms have a generation capacity of 427 megawatts, though approved sites that are not yet operational are capable of producing a further 3192 megawatts.

The latter figure includes projects near Macarthur, Glenthompson, Portland, Mortlake, Naroghid, Newfield, Woolsthorpe, Purnim and Mount Gellibrand. Wind farms are planned around Penshurst, Willatook, Bridgewater Lakes, Orford and East Creek near Caramut. Along with its five south-west projects Union Fenosa intends to build three wind farms in New South Wales worth $607 million.

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