A major wind energy company is backing the call by the National Wind Farm Commissioner for more high capacity power transmission lines throughout Victoria to reduce excessive clusters of wind farms.
Acciona Energy Australia managing director Brett Wickham said Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer was right to call for more high capacity transmission lines so wind farms could connect to the power grid in more areas across Victoria.
Mr Wickham said more transmission lines would avoid having “too many (wind farms) in one location.”
He said limiting wind farms to clusters around the current transmission line network would constrain the wind industry’s energy output because it would restrict the wind directions that could be harnessed.
Mr Wickham said the state government needed to invest in the construction of ‘spur lines’ from the existing transmission network to give wind farms more options on where they could connect to the grid.
He said the government needed to build the spur lines if it was to reach its target of having 40 per cent of Victoria’s energy coming from renewable sources by 2025.
Mr Wickham was in the south-west this week to meet with Portland engineering firm Keppel Prince that is making half of the 44 turbines for the wind farm that Acciona is building at Mount Gellibrand, east of Colac.
Mr Wickham said the Mount Gellibrand wind farm, which is not located close to any other wind farms, was able to connect to a 66 kilovolt (kV) line rather than the 500kV that ran from the Latrobe Valley to Portland.
Keppel Prince said it expected to double its workforce from 100 to 200 later this year because of the contract to build wind turbine towers for Acciona and if it was successful in gaining contracts from several other wind energy companies.
Acciona has planning permission to also build a wind farm, of up to 42 turbines, at Mortlake South.
Acciona hopes to use Keppel Prince to build towers for the Mortlake South turbines.
A spokesman for State Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was working with the Australian Energy Market Operator to plan for the future needs of the state’s transmission network.
AEMO, which is responsible for the planning of Victoria’s transmission network, is undertaking a Western Victoria Renewable Energy Integration Regulatory Investment Test for Transmission (RIT-T).
The RIT-T is an economic cost-benefit test that assesses various electricity transmission investment options that address an identified need.
It will assess the technical and economic viability of upgrading Western Victoria’s transmission network to identify options on how it could be augmented.
AEMO’s Project Assessment Draft Report for the Western Victoria RIT-T will contain an analysis of the options considered by AEMO and is expected to be published about the middle of this year.
A consultation phase, which will call for public submissions, will follow the release of the draft report.
The state government said it supported the AEMO’s assessment process, which would be undertaken in a framework set by the National Electricity Rules and the Australian Energy Regulator.
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