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NSW's Sapphire Wind Farm to power 49,000 ACT homes

It is a regional NSW project closer to the Queensland border than to Canberra, but within months the Sapphire Wind Farm will generate power for around 49,000 ACT homes.

After a flight to Armidale and long car ride west of Glen Innes, climate change minster Shane Rattenbury toured the facility on Thursday.

The wind farm will be NSW's largest once it is completed.

It is owned by CWP Renewables, a joint venture between two European renewable energy companies, and was one of two successful projects in the ACT's 2015 second wind auction.

The farm entered into a 20 year contract to supply 100 megawatts of its 270 megawatt output to the ACT government and by mid next year 32 wind turbines will come online to supply energy for the territory.

"Construction commenced in January 2017 on the 100 megawatt Sapphire 1 wind farm, which is another significant step in progress towards the ACT's 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 target," Mr Rattenbury said.

"The ACT supported part of the wind farm will generate 349,703 megawatt-hours per year."

The ACT government's reverse auctions have secured generating capacities of 40 megawatts from large-scale solar and 600 megawatts from wind farms over the past few years.

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

The next auctions secured a price of $77/MWh through stage two of the Hornsdale Wind Farm and a record low price of $73/MWh for stage three.

However, the company behind Sapphire Wind Farm, CWP Renewables, bid a price of $89.10/MWh to win the auction in March 2016.

Mr Rattenbury said investing in the construction of the Sapphire Wind Farm would make the ACT region a centre for renewable energy excellence and innovation and deliver flow-on benefits for Canberra.

"These include the relocation of CWP Renewables' asset and operations centre to Canberra, with employment of at least 24 people by 2022, and the establishment of a microgrid export business in the ACT," he said.

The carbon neutral microgrid will be located at Canberra Institute of Technology's Bruce campus and contribute toward education and research activities at Canberra Institute of Technology and the Australian National University.

"CWP Renewables is also scoping the possibility of offering a local investment opportunity in the wind farm for its neighbours which is a partnership model that has been successfully used in some other wind farm developments in Australia," Mr Rattenbury said.

Source: The Canberra Times

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