Tuesday, December 5, 2023

CleanCo puts wind in Western Downs sails

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CleanCo Queensland has signed on to take power from the Dulacca Renewable Energy Project, bringing 150 new jobs to the Western Downs.

Wind farm
Photo: Vera Kratochvil

The publicly-owned renewable energy company has signed the agreement to take power from the Octopus Australia-owned Dulacca Wind Farm, which will see up to 180 megawatts of renewable energy generated.

Octopus Australia, part of Octopus Group this week acquired the Dulacca Wind Farm from RES. Once constructed the wind project, 350km north-west of Brisbane within the Western Downs Region, will consist of 43 wind turbines. This is Octopus’ fourth large scale Australian renewable asset, with projects in NSW, Victoria and now Queensland after first entering the market in 2018. Octopus now has a dedicated renewable energy team in Australia of 25 people and is responsible for managing over $1 billion, across construction and operational assets in the country with ambitions to continue this rapid growth.

Darren Brown, Octopus Australia’s Investment Director and lead on Dulacca said: “It is great for Octopus to continue our long-standing European relationship with two strong counterparties in RES and Vestas, who between them bring deep wind farm construction and grid experience in Australia. Octopus is also looking forward to forging a new long-term relationship with CleanCo as our PPA partner. There is great alignment among the parties with CleanCo, RES and Vestas also sharing our long-term commitment to the community and helping Australia meet our renewable energy targets.”

Sam Reynolds, Octopus Australia’s managing director commented “Significant wind projects like Dulacca are key to helping decarbonise power generation in Australia. They follow our strategy of creating a diversified portfolio across location and technology that matches what the future of Australian energy should look like. In line with our B Corp certification, the community is at heart of everything we do, and we look forward to continuing the excellent work RES has done in the local area.”

Matt Rebbeck, RES’ CEO in Australia said “This is yet another quality development project from RES and we are grateful for the support of the forward-thinking local council. We are very excited about seeing this project come to life and seeing the creation of opportunities for the local communities, including those through the creation of the community fund. We are pleased to be continuing our involvement in this outstanding project and we are looking forward to supporting our partners at Octopus in the construction and operation of the wind farm.” Debt financing was arranged from a banking consortium including CBA, ING, MUFG, SMBC and Westpac.

“CleanCo was established by the Palaszczuk Government with a mandate to bring 1,400MW of new renewable energy into the market and really drive the energy transformation through investment in renewable energy projects,” said Mick de Brenni, minister for energy, renewables and hydrogen.

The move will not only deliver enough power to run over 124,000 homes and create new construction jobs for regional Queensland, but be a crucial step towards decarbonising the economy and bring manufacturers to the state.

“We know it’s important to ensure the jobs in the construction of this project are decent jobs, with a focus on locals and our Buy Qld procurement rules make sure of that,” added de Brenni.

The agreement outlines that CleanCo will take 70% or 126MW of Dulacca Wind Farm’s produced energy, adding to the already committed 980MW the company will deliver to the market over the next three years.

“Power Purchase Agreements like this one mean we can offer competitively priced energy contracts supported by renewables and our fleet of low-emissions firming generation, guaranteeing supply day and night,” said Maia Schweizer, CEO of CleanCo.

The project will be constructed over the next two years and will inject more than $400 million into Queensland’s regional economy, as well as bringing the state closer to the government’s target of reaching 50% renewables by 2030.

Decarbonisation is increasingly becoming a priority for state governments, with NSW establishing a Decarbonisation Innovation Hub as part of its Net Zero Industry and Innovation Program.

Investment into renewables is set to become common practice, as regional economies and individual farmers futures seem to rely on increased diversification, recent research reveals that climate change has already cost every farm across Australia $30,000 each year in profit over the past two decades, and profits could slashed in half by 2050 due to ongoing environmental changes.

“In addition, a community fund of $1.25m will provide funding opportunities for local projects, educational and environmental initiatives, community groups and organisations within the communities surrounding the project,” said Matt Rebbeck, CEO of RES.

For Octopus Australia, the project will be the group’s fourth large scale renewable asset and will bring their construction and operational assets under management to over $1 billion.

“This project follows our strategy of creating a diversified portfolio across location and technology that matches what the future of Australian energy should look like,” said Sam Reynolds, managing director of Octopus Australia.


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