168MW Musselroe open with RET plea

Australian utility Hydro Tasmania today urged the country's government to leave the national Renewable Energy Target (RET) in place as it cut the ribbon on the state's biggest wind farm, the 168MW Musselroe plant.

Musselroe – equipped with 56 Vestas V90 turbines – cost A$394 ($350m) to build in Tasmania's northeast.

Hydro Tasmania chairman David Crean said Musselroe was only possible because of the RET – currently the subject of hawkish comments from the government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, which was elected last year.

Abbott has pledged to launch a review of the RET – currently set at 20% by 2020 – and is under pressure from within his party to reduce or even scrap it.

Crean said: “The RET is a key driver for investment in wind farms as well as for the refurbishment and upgrade of our existing hydro plant. Its continuation will support investment and job creation throughout rural and regional Tasmania and Australia, as well as contributing to energy security and greenhouse gas abatement in the Australian energy sector.”

Work at the Musselroe site began in late 2011. The wind farm is 75%-owned by Chinese power group Shenhua, which invested in the project in September 2012 and is also partnering with Hydro Tasmania on other projects, including  the already-operating Woolnorth wind complex.

Hydro Tasmania is carrying out feasibility studies over a possible 600MW wind farm on Tasmania’s King Island.

That project – called TasWind – would be Australia’s largest wind farm.