Suzlon unveils plans for $1.4bn wind farm in South Australia

Indian turbine manufacturer Suzlon is planning to build and supply a A$1.3bn ($1.4bn) wind farm in South Australia.

Located on the state’s Yorke Peninsula, the Ceres wind farm project would be South Australia’s largest at 600MW.

The project is still pending approvals for development but if they come through, the firm will cement its position as a leading player in the country’s wind industry.

Suzlon and other wind firms were approached by a group of Yorke Peninsula landowners to develop the region’s wind resources. The Indian company secured the deal thanks to its track record in wind farm construction, believes Suzlon Energy Australia chief executive Dan Hansen

“We have built around half of the country’s wind capacity in the last five years,” he tells Recharge.

The company has taken a 65% stake in the development company behind the project.

Under plans drawn up by Suzlon, the project will require a High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) undersea cable across Gulf St Vincent so the wind power can feed into the Adelaide grid. The company has signed an agreement with power electronics company ABB to develop the HVDC connection.

“There were grid connection issues on the peninsula so we needed to get the project up to a certain size in order to reach critical mass to support the infrastructure,” adds Hansen.

The scale of the project means the Indian company aims to use around 180 of Suzlon-owned REpower's 3.4MW turbines. “They fit well with the wind speed and we can use less of them so there will be less environmental impact,” says Hansen.

Local developers involved in the project have already gathered seven years of wind data from the area, showing an average wind speed of more than 8 metres per second.

The project also proposes building an integrated pilot biomass plant that can feed into the state’s power supply.

If approvals come through, Suzlon expects to complete the project by 2015. It will generate enough power for up to 225,000 homes.

Suzlon is Australia’s second biggest turbine supplier after Vestas with a 29% share of installed wind capacity (including REpower turbines), according to a recent report commissioned by the Clean Energy Council.

The company has installed six wind farms in South Australia with a capacity of 507MW. It also conducts its central warehouse activities from Adelaide.

The new wind farm would underscore the state’s position as a renewable energy leader in Australia. It already has more than half of the country’s wind power and has set a target to reach 33% renewable energy generation by 2020.

Dominique Patton, Singapore

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