Vestas as part of its strategy to diversify beyond its traditional wind turbine business has bought into the 4GW Walcha Energy Project in New South Wales, Australia, which is slated to combine wind and solar arrays with pumped storage hydro.

The manufacturer according to developer Walcha Energy has acquired a majority stake in the up to 700MW Winterbourne wind farm, a first stage of the up to 3.4GW wind component of the Walcha project.

Vestas has confirmed it bought a majority stake and will lead the development of the wind project, but also stresses that it is co-owned by community stakeholders. Subject to obtaining the necessary approvals, the wind farm is slated to start operations in 2022.

Regional politicians and Walcha Energy expect the involvement of global wind player Vestas to speed up the development of the wind farm and help unlock the considerable energy potential of Australia’s New England region.

“A key feature of The Walcha Energy Project is the unique community benefit model, including an ownership interest in the Winterbourne Wind Farm,” Walcha Energy director Mark Waring said.

“We’ve been engaging with the Walcha community for more than 14 years and continued engagement, benefit sharing and responsible development are core values for our team. Vestas is perfectly aligned with these core values and to this commitment,” Waring added.

The next stage in its development is the preparation of an environmental impact assessment to support a development application in 2020.

Walcha also announced that it has lodged the scoping report for the 700MW Salisbury solar farm south east of Uralla that will serve as the connection point for the first stage of the Walcha Energy Project. The Salisbury solar farm includes a 100MW battery storage system.