A $1 billion-plus wind farm project is set to proceed at Circular Head as Tasmania’s renewable energy revolution gathers pace.
The long-awaited Robbins Island wind farm is expected to provide about 250 construction jobs, plus more than 50 ongoing jobs.
It is expected to cost between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion, and will involve two wind farms.
International renewable energy developer UPC Renewables on Thursday said UPC Renewables Australia and land owners the Hammond family had signed an agreement to develop a project on Robbins Island and at nearby Jims Plain.
UPC Renewables said the Robbins Island project was targeted to be ready for investment by early 2019.
The smaller Jims Plain project was expected to be investment ready by mid-2018, and to provide a smaller number of jobs.
“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,” UPC Renewables Australia chief executive Anton Rohner said.
“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.
“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.”
The company said a study into the feasibility of connecting directly to the Victorian grid from Robbins Island had been initiated.
“With the changes in the energy market and potential viable transmission solutions available, this project is set to proceed,” Mr Rohner said.
“The technology to be deployed at the site will be mostly wind energy, but the option of additional solar and other non-hydro based energy storage technologies is also contemplated.
“From here, we have further resource and environmental monitoring work to undertake, with the development application processes and transmission studies commencing.”
The announcement was the second major wind power project announcement in three days, with Aurora Energy and Goldwind Energy reaching in principle agreement on a 144 megawatt wind farm at Wild Cattle Hill, in the Central Highlands.
A third significant wind development, at Granville Harbour, on the West Coast, is expected to be confirmed soon.
Meanwhile, the federal and state governments are enthusiastic about the potential for ramping up Tasmania’s hydro power generation through pumped hydro technology.
The Burnie Chamber of Commerce and Industry expected the Robbins Island project would create a regional boom.
“John Hammond, of Robbins Island, spoke to the chamber at its breakfast meeting in Wynyard two weeks ago regarding the project and we feel it will have an economic boom right along the North-West Coast as there will undoubtedly be businesses that can supply services and components required for the turbines and the general construction that is required,” chamber president Peter Holm said.
Chamber vice-president Ian Jones said: “It’s now time for the state government to really push for the second Bass Strait interconnector, bring it across the Strait onto Robbins Island then connect to the proposed site at Jims Plains, which is adjacent to the Woolnorth wind farm, plus connect to the Granville Harbour project.
“The second interconnector may even make the mothballed TasWind project on King Island viable again.
”In 10 years, green energy could become Tasmania’s biggest export earner.”
Construction at Wild Cattle Hill is expected to start in September.
It will provide more than 150 construction jobs, about 10 ongoing jobs and enough energy to power 60,000 homes.
Energy Minister Matthew Groom said on Tuesday he hoped to have more to say about the Granville Harbour project shortly.
That would cost about $270 million, create about 200 construction jobs and provide carbon dioxide emissions abatement equivalent to taking more than 30,000 cars from the road.
UPC Renewables said it had “been a developer for more than 20 years, with UPC-formed companies having developed more than 3500 megawatts of renewable energy and more than $US5 billion of capital deployed across three continents”.
Mr Rohner said Oliver Yates had joined the company as an executive director.
He said Mr Yates was the inaugural chief executive of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation; “a $10 billion fund set up by the Australian government to reduce emissions in Australia”.