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Cash cloud over wind farms  

Credit:  David Killick, The Mercury, /www.themercury.com.au 29 December 2010 ~~

Tasmanian wind farm operators are confident planned projects will proceed despite a steep fall in the price of Renewable Energy Certificates.

About $1.5 billion of wind farm investments nationwide are under a cloud as the price of certificates has dropped 20 per cent from a high of $36 in October.

The certificates are given to the generators of renewable energy and can be sold on the open market to polluters to offset their emissions.

Roaring 40s managing director Steve Symons said the drop would have to be reversed to bolster the industry in the medium term although the planned $450 million Musselroe project remained on track.

Federal Government changes to the certificate scheme will see major and minor projects traded in different markets from January 1.

“It’s not as though we’re not going flat out on Musselroe and waiting for the RECs to move, we are at the moment full steam ahead on Musselroe,” Mr Symons said.

“There’s an expectation from the shareholders that we will see the REC price improve as the new scheme works through.

“The market needs those certificates to be up around $50 to $60.”

The project manager for the proposed 225mW Cattle Hill wind farm, Shane Bartel, said the REC price was not critical but a higher price helped.

“Renewable Energy Certificates really do make wind farms happen and any degree of security is really sought after by the industry,” he said.

Mr Bartel said the Federal Government’s target of 45,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy a year by 2020 helped keep the industry going but more was needed.

“The 20 per cent [target] by 2020 that we currently have is fantastic but after that we need something more: either a price on carbon or something else like that.”

He said the Cattle Hill project was proceeding well, with approvals likely in the first quarter of 2011 and construction near Lake Echo to start in 2012.

Source:  David Killick, The Mercury, /www.themercury.com.au 29 December 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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