The Golden Plains wind farm is a 1.3GW onshore wind project being developed in Victoria, Australia. With an estimated investment of A$3bn ($2bn), it will be one of the largest wind farm projects undertaken in the country.
The project was originally developed by WestWind Energy, a renewable energy developer based in Australia. Clean energy producer TagEnergy joined the project as the equity investor and operator of the wind farm in February 2022. WestWind Energy will remain involved in the project and will be responsible for asset management on behalf of TagEnergy.
The wind farm will be developed in two stages, with financial closure for the first stage announced in November 2022. Construction of the first stage is expected to commence in early 2023, while production is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2025.
The project is expected to generate more than 4,000GWh of power a year, which will be enough to power over 765,000 homes and offset more than four million tons of carbon dioxide a year. It is expected to generate more than 700 jobs in Victoria.
The proposed development area for the Golden Plains wind farm is located to the south, south-east and west of Rokewood, a town in the Golden Plains Shire of Victoria. The site is located approximately 60km north-west of Geelong and covers an area of 16,739ha.
Currently used for agricultural purposes, such as broad acre cropping, the site is owned by the Golden Plains Shire Council, Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and Victorian Volcanic Plain bioregion.
In 2006, WestWind began monitoring to assess the feasibility of developing wind power at the project site. The feasibility studies were completed in 2016, and a planning permit was pursued for the development of an 800MW to 1,000MW project.
The project received planning approval, which included an assessment of the Environment Effects Statement (EES), between 2017 to 2018. An amendment application for the project was later approved in November 2021.
Golden Plains wind farm make-up
The Golden Plains wind farm will include up to 228 wind turbines with a capacity of 6MW each. In the first stage of the project, 122 V162-6.2MW Vestas wind turbines with a capacity of 756MW will be installed.
The V162-6.2 MW turbine is based on Vestas’ EnVentus platform. With a rotor diameter of 162m, it features the largest rotor size in the company’s portfolio. The turbine has a swept area of more than 20,000m².
Delivery of the turbines is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2023, while commissioning is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2024.
The first stage will also include the installation of underground electricity cabling, electricity collector stations and a new 500kV terminal station at the wind farm. Another new terminal station will be constructed at Cressy, along with a 220kV switching station and two 500/220kV transformers. A 5km-long transmission line will be laid to provide a connection to the terminal station at the wind farm.
A high-voltage 500kV power line running through the southern section of the site will minimise the need to develop above-ground power lines and provide easy access to the energy grid.
The wind farm’s second stage will include 93 turbines with a total capacity of 576MW. A 300MW battery storage facility will also be installed to add flexibility and stability to the grid.
TagEnergy secured non-recourse finance from Denmark’s Export Credit Agency (EKF), the Australian Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), Germany’s KfW Ipex, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac, Japan’s Mizuho Bank and Bank of China.
CEFC committed A$175m ($117.2m), while KfW IPEX-Bank and EKF will contribute A$160m ($107.2m) and A$300m ($200.9m), respectively, for the project.
Ingka Investments, the investment arm of the holding company Ingka Group, signed an agreement to invest in the project by acquiring a 15% interest in February 2023. The completion of this transaction is subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Contractors involved in the Golden Plains wind project
TagEnergy entered an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract with wind turbine manufacturer and services provider Vestas in November 2022. The contract includes a 30-year service and maintenance agreement.
Australia’s energy services company, AusNet Services, and its construction partner, Consolidated Power Projects Australia, will design, build, own and operate the transmission infrastructure for the wind farm, including a new substation.
Management and consultancy services provider WSP was appointed as the independent certifier for the project in February 2023. It will provide technical advisory services, site visits and completion reviews.
Law firm Elgar Middleton served as TagEnergy’s financial advisor for securing the project’s financing, while HWL Ebsworth, another law firm, provided legal support to WestWind and TagEnergy.