Dulacca, Queensland, Australia
Vestas, AECOM Australia, Nature Advisory
The 181MW Dulacca wind farm is planned for development in Queensland, Australia, by Octopus Australia, a subsidiary of global financial services and renewable energy company Octopus Group.
Construction of the wind farm is anticipated to begin by the end of 2021, and the project’s commissioning is expected in the first half of 2023. Upon commencing operations, the plant is expected to generate enough clean energy to power approximately 124,000 homes.
The project is expected to generate up to 800 jobs during the construction period, including 150 jobs during peak construction. It will create up to ten permanent jobs during operations while injecting more than A$400m ($295m) into the regional economy.
Dulacca wind farm location
The wind farm site is located between Dulacca and Drillham in Queensland’s Western Downs area, approximately 250km west of the city of Toowoomba.
The site was selected due to its optimal wind resource. It mainly consists of private farmlands currently used for cattle grazing and cropping. The development will take place on less than 2% of the land area and is not expected to impact the existing agricultural practice in the area.
The project was originally developed by global independent renewable energy company Renewable Energy Systems (RES). The company secured approval from the Queensland Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning (DSDMIP) for the project’s development in March 2019.
The wind farm was initially approved for a total capacity of 240MW with 56 wind turbines but was altered to a 43-turbine layout with 181MW capacity by RES.
The Dulacca project achieved financial closure in August 2021. Octopus reached an agreement to acquire the project from RES for an undisclosed amount in the same month.
RES will continue to support the project. It agreed to manage the energy performance certificate (EPC) and grid connection contracts for the project throughout the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) registration process. AEMO operates gas and electricity markets across Australia. RES will also provide asset management and plant monitoring services.
Dulacca wind farm make-up
The Dulacca wind farm is expected to have an operational life of 30 years. It will include 43 wind turbines, each with 4.2MW of power generating capacity.
Ancillary infrastructure will include an electrical substation, meteorological masts, and operations and maintenance buildings. Access roads, as well as underground and overhead cabling will also be completed as part of the project.
Temporary facilities, such as a construction compound and concrete batching plant to support the construction of the wind farm, will also be built.
Furthermore, a planned energy storage facility will be built at the site in a separate phase.
Power purchase agreement
Octopus Australia signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with CleanCo Queensland, a government-owned renewable power generation company, in August 2021 for the supply of 70% or 126MW of the power generated by the wind farm.
The PPA will support CleanCo to achieve its target of bringing more than 1GW to the market over the next three years.
Financing for the Dulacca wind farm
The wind project secured debt financing from a banking consortium comprised of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), ING Bank (Australia), MUFG Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and Westpac Banking.
Danish turbine manufacturer Vestas was selected to supply 43 V150-4.2MW turbines for the Dulacca wind farm. The company will deliver the turbines in the second quarter of 2022, while the commissioning is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023.
The contract also includes a maintenance service component known as Active Output Management 5000 (AOM 5000) for 30 years. AOM 5000 is expected to ensure optimum energy generation at the wind farm.
Infrastructure services company AECOM Australia prepared the vegetation and fauna management plan for the wind farm, while Nature Advisory, an Australian environment consultant, prepared the bird and bat management plan for the project.
Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright was preferred by RES to prepare and negotiate the agreements to engage Vestas for engineering, procurement and construction as well as operation and maintenance services for the project.
Norton Rose Fulbright also supported Vestas in negotiating subcontracts for the project, including the civil balance-of-plant contract with MPC Group and another contract with Australian engineering and construction company RJE Global for the electrical balance-of-plant services.
Law firm Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) provided advisory services to RES on key project aspects, including development, power off-take, project financing and sale of the wind farm.
Canadian firm WSP was appointed as owner’s engineer by Octopus to support the project through design review, site inspections and technical support in September 2021. The firm also reviewed key contracts, technology and technical aspects of the project, and assessed scope gaps during the project acquisition phase.
US-based law firm White & Case advised Octopus on the wind farm’s acquisition. Ashurst, an international law firm based in the UK, advised CleanCo on the PPA as well as the banking consortium on the project financing.