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90,000 Canberra homes to be powered by two new wind farms

Two new wind farms that will be built in NSW next year will power 90,000 ACT homes with renewable electricity, climate change minister Shane Rattenbury has said.

Construction will begin in 2017 on the Crookwell 2 Wind Farm and the Sapphire Wind Farm after funding arrangements with the ACT governments were finalised in the last two weeks.Construction of the 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm is set to commence in 2017. 

The Sapphire Wind Farm will be the largest in NSW. Construction will begin in January with the farm to come online in the second half of 2018.

Located between Glen Innes and Inverell, the farm has contracted 100MW of its 270MW output to the ACT government with 32 wind turbines expected to supply energy for the territory.

Mr Rattenbury said the Sapphire Wind Farm would produce 349,703 megawatt-hours of renewable energy per year for the ACT.

The 91-megawatt Crookwell 2 Wind Farm will produce 304,099 megawatt-hours per year for Canberra homes with 28 turbines, Mr Rattenbury said.

Crookwell was the only wind farm in the wider Canberra region to secure a contract with the ACT government through the reverse auction process.

Construction on the Crookwell 2 Wind Farm is expected to begin by April 2017.

The closure came as federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said an energy regulator report into Australia's poles and wires was "further evidence" the renewable energy targets adopted by the states was putting the national electricity grid at risk.

The Australian Energy Market Operator report found billions of dollars of investment was needed to secure the stability of Australia's power grid amid the growing generation of renewable energy.

But Mr Rattenbury pointed out: "Renewable energy targets are not risking energy security; failing to upgrade our old and outdated energy network is."

"A secure, renewable energy powered future is achievable if we invest in upgrading our energy network, driving investment in renewable energies and managing the transition away from coal," Mr Rattenbury said.

"As the Finkel Report makes clear, a range of technical and weather related events lead to the black out in South Australia. While these do need to be addressed, it is reckless and wrong of Minister Frydenberg to pretend that renewable energy targets are responsible for problems in the national energy market".

In the past four years, reverse auctions have secured generating capacities of 40 megawatts from large-scale solar projects and 600 megawatts from wind farms.

"The reverse auction process has not only made the ACT into the renewable energy capital of Australia, but it has also delivered Australia's lowest ever renewable electricity prices, well below industry expectations," Mr Rattenbury said.

In 2014, the auction won by Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm delivered a fixed price of $81.50/MWh for 20 years.

The next auction in 2015 secured a price of $77/MWh through stage two of the Hornsdale Wind Farm.

The 2016 Next Generation Renewables Auction delivered a new record low price of $73/MWh for Hornsdale Wind Farm Stage 3.

However the company behind Sapphire Wind Farm, CWP Renewables, bid a price of $89.10 per MWh to win the auction in March last year.

Crookwell wind farm owner Union Fenosa bid a price of $86.60/MWh.

But both contracts require the companies behind the wind farms to invest in clean energy development in the ACT.

Union Fenosa will create the Asia-Pacific Renewable Energy Centre in Canberra to manage its Australian wind assets, while CWP Renewables will establish microgrid export business in the ACT.

The Asia-Pacific Renewable Energy Centre will run the Crookwell farm as well as all future Australian Union Fenosa Wind Australia projects and will be established in Canberra in early 2017.

Source: Canberra Times

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