UPC Renewables, a leading global renewable energy developer, has announced it will build two wind farm projects in the northwest of Tasmania that will have an aggregate capacity of up to 1,000 megawatts.
The announcement was made late last week, in conjunction with the Hammond family, who own Robbins Island and other lands near Smithton on the north-west coast of Tasmania. UPC Renewables will build two wind farms, one on Robbins Island and another on nearby Jims Plain, with a combined output of between 600 and 1,000 megawatts (MW).
“The Robbins Island project itself is a very large isolated site and, together with Jims Plain, have some of the best proven wind resources in the world,” said Andy Rohner, CEO of UPC Renewables Australia. “Once built, it will complement the Prime Minister’s recently announced strategy for Tasmanian Wind and Hydro systems to act as south-east Australia’s renewable energy battery and is close to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s proposed entry point for a second interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria.”
Specifically, in April, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, along with Tasmania’s Premier, Will Hodgman, announced their intention to expand the Tasmanian Hydro System, which in turn would “underpin additional wind investment” in Tasmania. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will therefore work with Hydro Tasmania to explore the possibility of building new pumped hydro energy storage schemes across the state, which could deliver up to 2,500 MW of storage capacity for the larger Australian National Electricity Market. This will allow for the realization of the Hodgman Government’s desire to see Tasmania “become the renewable energy battery for Australia.”
In addition to the new UPC Renewables projects, a feasibility study has also been initiated into connecting directly into the Victorian (Tasmania’s northern neighbor, separated by the Bass Strait) electricity grid. The new Robbins Island wind farm will also necessitate a second Basslink cable and will create some 250 jobs through the construction phase, and more than 50 jobs during operation.
“The Robbins Island and Jims Plain projects, together with Tasmania’s hydro assets and other new renewable energy projects, will assist in making a second interconnector a dispatchable and significant renewable energy generator into the National Electricity Market,” continued Rohner.
The $1.2 billion project is just the latest wind energy project initiated in Tasmania, following the announcement between Aurora Energy and Goldwind to develop the 144 MW Wild Cattle Hill Wind Farm in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. Construction of the project, made up of 49 wind turbines, is expected to begin later this year at a price of $300 million.
“The project is expected to employ more than 150 people during construction and have up to 10 permanent maintenance staff when fully operational in 2020,” said Goldwind Australia Managing Director John Titchen (PDF). “We are particularly excited to have reached this stage of the project given our long interest in developing a project of this nature in Tasmania.”
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