Australian wind power producer calls for domestic turbine maker

Australian renewable energy company Pacific Hydro Ltd. would support the establishment of a turbine manufacturing industry in south-west Victoria, in a bid to cut capital costs for its wind farm operations, said chairman Kingsley Cullen. His comments came last week, following the opening by Victoria premier Steve Bracks of the state’s first and Australia’s largest wind farm at Codrington, south-west of Melbourne.

The A$33 million ($16.75) facility generates enough electricity to power 14 000 homes and consists of 14 turbines which tower about 80 metres above the ground.

Pacific Hydro has already sold all the power generation from Codrington to Origin Energy Limited and is now looking at building a much bigger facility at nearby Portland, through the simultaneous development of four sites. Victoria has a number of locations well suited to wind power production, particularly along exposed coastal areas.

Origin has already said it will continue its association with Pacific Hydro on future wind projects. The proposed A$250 million Portland plant – which is currently being environmentally evaluated – would generate 150 MW of power compared with the 18 MW from Codrington.

“We’re keen to facilitate the establishment of a wind turbine manufacturing industry near Portland,” Pacific Hydro chairman Kingsley Cullen said. “This will have a significant impact on the area, resulting in 300 direct jobs and up to 1500 indirect jobs, as well as the potential for significant exports through Australia and Asia.”

Mr Cullen said that Pacific Hydro did not intend to take an equity position in any manufacturer but would guarantee a market for a turbine producer. “We don’t see ourselves as being a manufacturer of turbines but we do acknowledge and recognise that for any turbine manufacturers to establish a viable industry in Australia, there has to be a market,” he said.” Cullen suggested that the Portland project itself was sufficient in size to kick-start a manufacturing industry.

“We’re trying to create the market so that we can get these turbines manufactured here in Australia so we can reduce the capital cost and hence reduce the sale price of electricity.”

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