Apple cancels PPA for controversial Australian wind farm

US tech giant Apple has pulled out of a power purchase agreement (PPA) with an Australian wind project that has faced criticism over concerns it would harm endangered species in the area.

Activists fear endangered species like koalas could be harmed when vegetation is cleared to make room for the wind farm (pic credit: John Giustina/Getty Images)

Apple signed the PPA with developer Windlab last year but has now announced it is ending its involvement in the project without saying why the decision was made. 

“Apple is no longer participating in the Upper Burdekin project. Apple will continue to explore renewable energy projects in Australia," a spokesperson told Windpower Monthly. 

A Windlab spokesperson said: “Windlab and Apple have agreed to terminate a power purchase agreement for the Upper Burdekin wind farm. The development phase of the project has taken significantly longer than originally anticipated, and the project no longer meets the PPA’s milestone requirements.”

Windlab owns 100% of the planned 500MW Upper Burdekin wind farm. 

The allocated site for the wind farm is north of Townsville, inland of Queensland’s Pacific coast. 

The approximately A$1 billion (US$675 million) project has faced a backlash for its potential impact on wildlife after Windlab published the environmental report into its proposals. The report suggested local ecology – including endangered species like koalas – faced habitat loss and possibly even death as a result of vegetation removal associated with the wind farm.

Rainforest Reserves Australia is an environmental group campaigning against the wind farm. The group  today (5 April) called on Windlab and its majority owner Andrew Forrest – colloquially known as “Twiggy” – to cancel the project following Apple’s withdrawal. 

“Now is the time for Twiggy Forrest and Windlab to discard the Upper Burdekin wind farm plan. We know Australia is a world leader in extinctions, so carrying on with this project is madness,” Steven Nowakowski, a state conservationist with Rainforest Reserves Australia, said. 

Windlab said it had taken numerous measures to protect ecology as part of the development process. 

"Any suggestion that we will not apply the highest of standards to protect koalas and other species – is incorrect. Following more than two years’ in-depth environmental studies and consultation, we have delivered a project design that preserves more than 98% of native vegetation on the cattle property where the project is located.

“We will deliver robust management plans to ensure the welfare of native species," a spokesperson for the company said.