Australian energy provider Origin Energy has signed its largest ever wind power purchase agreement. The company plans to take all the power generated by a 90-turbine wind farm that will have an installed capacity of 270 megawatts (MW).
Operated by New Zealand energy firm TrustPower, the Snowtown II Wind Farm in South Australia will be located alongside TrustPower’s 100 MW Snowtown Wind Farm, with which Origin already holds a power purchase agreement.
The 15-year agreement means Origin will be supplied with 100 per cent of the output from Snowtown II, expected to begin operations in two years.
Snowtown II Wind Farm will be sited approximately 100 miles northwest of Adelaide. Construction on the farm is expected to be under way later this year.
In a statement, Origin Chief Executive Officer for Energy Markets Frank Calabria said: “Origin is an active investor in the renewable energy sector and this new power purchase agreement will directly underpin the development of the Snowtown II Wind Farm.”
Despite growth in renewable energy use in recent years, Australia has lagged behind many other western economies in the change to renewables and remains the only major economy that has become more dependent on coal and oil over the past 20 years. But there’s new pressure to make a shift with the passage of a carbon tax that will take effect in July.
According to a report produced by the Australian industry body the Clean Energy Council, hydroelectric power makes up most of the current renewable sector, producing about 67 per cent of emissions-free electricity. Biogas represents around 8 per cent, with solar power at just 2 per cent.
Wind power is the fastest-growing renewable source, with a 22 per cent slice of the pie. South Australia, in particular, now gets just over a quarter of its electricity from wind turbines, and the state in the south-central part of the country has higher per capita installed wind capacity than Denmark or Spain.
Last year, Australia had 1188 wind turbines in 57 operating wind farms – including a small one in the Australian Antarctic Territory.