Vestas takes project development to a new level

Danish manufacturer Vestas has acquired a majority stake in the up-to-700MW Winterbourne wind farm, part of a larger 4GW renewable energy hybrid project being developed in eastern Australia.

Vestas has installed 2.3GW of wind turbine capacity in Australia
Vestas has installed 2.3GW of wind turbine capacity in Australia

The wind project forms part of the Walcha hybrid energy development in New South Wales, over 400km north of Sydney.

Vestas has acquired a "majority stake" in the first phase of the wind element of the project — Winterbourne — from developer Walcha Energy, while a "small percentage" is held by community stakeholders.

Walcha Energy is a joint venture between Australian advisory firms Energy Estate and Mirus Wind.

It is the Danish manufacturer’s largest known investment in owning and developing a wind project after taking its first step in such a direction when it acquired a 40% stake in two wind projects in Sweden in May 2018.

Vestas partnered with Vattenfall and pension fund PKA in acquiring the Blakiden and Fäbodberget projects — to which Vestas will also supply its V136-4.2MW turbines.

Speaking to Windpower Monthly after the Swedish acquisition in June 2018, Vestas’ president of northern and central Europe Nils de Baar said the manufacturer had to look at "creating value beyond turbine sales" in a post-subsidy market. 

Vestas is also developing wind sites in the US, through its Steelhead Americas subsidiary. It has a pipeline of roughly 3GW and signed a corporate PPA with household goods producer General Mills in April. 

Overall, the 4GW Walcha Energy hybrid project could include up to 3.4GW of wind capacity, plus solar and pumped hydro.

"The Vestas investment will accelerate development of the Winterbourne wind farm and will help unlock the considerable renewable energy potential of the wider… region," Walcha Energy said in a statement.

According to Walcha Energy, the next stage of development, which will be now led by Vestas, will include environmental impact assessments ahead of permitting applications in 2020.

The Winterbourne site could be online by 2022, once it has been issued the required permits.

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