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20 February 2020

UPC proposes wind, bolsters Australian-heavy renewables pipeline

By Andries Wantenaar

UPC Renewables has proposed an 800 MW wind farm in New South Wales, Australia. The plan for the Valley of the Winds project has it using 175 turbines, with a capital investment of $671 million (USD). The project is expected to create 400 jobs through construction, with 50 permanent roles in operation thereafter.

A high voltage transmission line will connect the project to the National Electricity Market, running from a new substation to be built inside the wind farm to the existing 500 kV transmission line.

The project is in early planning and has a meeting with locals scheduled for this month, with ongoing considerations around partnering with a complementary energy storage facility. One factor in the project’s design will be minimising the obstruction of cattle grazing in the Warrumbungle region of the state. Jeremy Ellis, Valley of the Winds project Manager, said “We want this project to be a valued long-term asset for rural communities across the Central West region for many years to come. So, it’s important for us to hear the views of the local community as early as possible and wherever we can build them into our project application.” In particular, the project will be adjusted with local farmers in mind in regard to matters such as easements and the convenient location of powerline infrastructure.

UPC Renewables Australia currently has several other huge projects under early development in Australia, including a wind farm, a solar farm, and a pumped hydro storage project. The 720 MW New England Solar Farm, likewise in planning phase, is also located in New South Wales, taking advantage of the high-altitude New England tablelands in the northern part of the state. The project itself would be at an altitude of 1,000 meters. The project was at one point expected to begin construction in 2019, but is still waiting on approval from the NSW Independent Planning Commission, which will reach a decision this year. 700 construction jobs and 15 operations jobs will be created by the project.

The other wind project is the Robbins Island and Jim’s Plain duo on the island of Tasmania, which has a population of 500,000. The project is still in early stages, but its eventual capacity will be between 600 MW and 1,000 MW, with a possibility of solar and energy storage accompanying the two wind installations.

UPC Renewables and its partner AC Energy bought into the 250MW Baroota pumped hydro project and its concomitant 300 MW Bridle Track solar plant last August, acquiring a majority stake from Rise Renewables. The project is located near Port Germein in South Australia and will use the SA Water Baroota Reservoir as its lower pond, with an overall cost of around $470 million.

UPC Renewables – UPC Renewable Australia’s parent company – was established in China in 1995, initially developing renewables projects in Europe and North America, then shifting its focus to Asia in 2006. It currently has 4.5 GW of wind and solar assets active across five continents, and has another 6 GW under development in Australia, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Taiwan, Korea and Tunisia in North Africa.

UPC Renewables Australia was formed in 2016 and has since begun work on utility-scale solar, wind, and pumped hydro storage projects. The company is 50% owned by AC Energy, which is in turn the energy platform of Ayala Corporation. The Ayala Group is the Philippines’ largest conglomerate and has a history stretching back to Spanish rule. AC Energy has a hand in thermal and renewable energy in the Philippines, and in renewable projects in Vietnam and Indonesia as well as Australia.