Coopers Gap Windfarm, Cooranga North, Australia


Australia Windfarm

Coopers Gap is a 453MW windfarm being developed in Cooranga North, approximately 250km north-west of Brisbane, Australia. With an estimated cost of $850m, the project is being touted as Australia's biggest windfarm.

An environmental impact statement for the project was approved by Queensland's independent coordinator-general in March 2017. The development permit for the windfarm was granted by the Queensland Government in June 2017.

Construction of the windfarm is set to begin by the end of 2017, while operations are expected to commence by mid-2019.

Powering Australian Renewables Fund (PARF), a partnership between AGL Energy (AGL, 20%) and QIC (80%), acquired the project from AGL on 17 August 2017. AGL and the contractors will develop the windfarm.

The project is expected to create approximately 200 jobs during peak construction and up to 20 during operation.

Coopers Gap windfarm benefits

The Coopers Gap project is expected to produce approximately 1.51 million MWh of renewable energy, which will be sufficient to power more than 260,000 average Australian homes. It is anticipated to offset approximately 1.18Mt of CO2 emissions a year.

The project's benefits include $500m capital investment in the region, improved reliability of electricity, contribution to the Australian Renewable Energy Target (RET), and contribution to the Queensland government's renewable energy policy.

Plant make-up

The windfarm will be equipped with 123 GE wind turbines, including 91 3.6MW turbines and 32 3.8MW turbines. The 3.6MW and 3.8MW turbines will have a rotor diameter of 137m and 130m respectively. The 3.6MW turbine is highly ranked in the Class III wind segment.

Each blade of the 3.8MW turbine will have a length of 63.7m, while the 3.6MW turbine blade will be 67.2m-long.

The 3.8MW turbines will have a sound level of 106.5dBA at normal operation, while the 3.6MW generators have a sound level of 106dBA.

The turbines will be equipped with a WindSCADA control system and regulated by an electric drive pitch control system with battery back-up.

Power collection, transmission and purchase

Power generated will be transmitted to cable marshalling points and an onsite transformer through underground and overhead cables. Conductors on the overhead feeders will link the cable marshalling points to the main switchboard and the windfarm substation.

The substation will consist of a main transformer, switchgear, associated electrical infrastructure, and operation and maintenance buildings.

Powerlink has proposed the development of a new substation alongside the new 275kV Western Downs to Halys transmission line. The new substation will act as the point of connection to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

"The Coopers Gap project is expected to produce approximately 1.51 million MWh of renewable energy, which will be sufficient to power more than 260,000 average Australian homes."

PARF has signed a power purchase agreement with AGL for the offtake of electricity generated at Coopers Gap at a price of less than $60/MWh for an initial period of five years. It also has an option to extend the agreement for an additional five years, and to change the price.

Coopers Gap windfarm construction

Construction of the Australian windfarm is expected to take approximately 27 months to complete.

Major construction works will include site establishment, earthworks for access roads and wind turbine hardstands, excavation, and the construction of wind turbine foundations.

The works will also include the installation of wind turbines, electrical and communications cabling and equipment, and other associated works.

Financing

Funding for the windfarm is being arranged through PARF partners' equity and a lenders group comprising Westpac Banking, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Societe Generale, DBS Bank, Mizuho Bank, and ABN Amro.

Contractors involved

The joint venture of GE and Catcon was awarded the engineering and procurement contract for the windfarm. GE will supply the wind turbines, while CATCON will be responsible for the project construction.

GE will also provide full services to maintain the windfarm under a 25-year agreement.