A South Australian wind farm helps the ACT create history

Lachlan Roberts 2 October 2019 60
Hornsdale Wind Farm.

Hornsdale Wind Farm has helped the ACT reach its 100 per cent renewable electricity target. Photos: File.

A wind farm in South Australia has helped the nation’s capital create a piece of history, as the final infrastructure has been put in place to help the ACT reach its 100 per cent renewable electricity target.

Consisting of 99 wind turbines located between 8 and 24 km north of Jamestown in South Australia, stage three of Hornsdale Wind Farm will begin its contract with the ACT Government today.

The 109-megawatt wind farm will generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of around 58,000 homes in the ACT every year over the next 20 years.

The Hornsdale Wind Farm is the last of the 10 large-scale renewable energy generators spread across the country required to power the ACT. It means the ACT has become the first major jurisdiction outside Europe to transition from a fossil fuel-based energy supply to 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Nine years after the ACT Legislative Assembly voted to support a legislated greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 per cent by 2020, the ACT has finally reached its target. Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury said reaching the feat has proven that climate change action is both achievable and affordable.

“This really is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle,” Mr Rattenbury said. “It took a lot of years to work out how to get there but what it demonstrates is that if you take the clear policy position of where you want to get to and do the hard work to deliver it, you can do things that you thought at the beginning were impossible.

“This is a huge achievement in consolidating the ACT’s reputation as Australia’s renewable energy capital and is a significant milestone in achieving our ultimate goal of zero net emissions by 2045.”

Shane Rattenbury

Mr Rattenbury said the ACT Government is ready to maintain 100 per cent renewable electricity from 2020 into the future.

While the ACT’s four renewable electricity auctions have brought in more than $500 million worth of investment into the ACT region, it has also made Canberra the centre for high-skilled renewable sector jobs.

“When the reverse auctions went out, we did not stipulate where the generation should be but we did stipulate that there needed to be industry development inside the ACT,” Mr Rattenbury told Region Media.

“So that is why we have the only accredited wind training course in the Southern Hemisphere, which is taught at CIT Bruce. People can go there and get a globally recognised certification of their skills so they can be technical operators on wind farms.

“A number of companies have also set up their headquarters in Canberra. We have businesses on Marcus Clarke Street who are operating wind farms across the planet from Canberra.”

While Mr Rattenbury said he was proud of the ACT’s achievement, he knows the work isn’t done yet.

“For me, the thing that is most significant about this achievement is that other jurisdictions are copying what we are doing,” he said. “That is a sign of a good and effective policy when others pick up and use it.

“I am really happy about that and I want people to copy as much as they like. While I am proud of this, we still need to become a more sustainable and liveable city while adapting to rising temperatures.”

Louis de Sambucy, the managing director of Neoen Australia which owns and operates Hornsdale Wind Farm, said Neoen was proud to be a part of history.

“Neoen is incredibly proud to have supported the ACT in meeting its 100 per cent renewable energy target, by supplying electricity produced by our great Hornsdale wind farm in South Australia,” he said.

“Our aim is to continue to support Australia’s energy transition by providing firm and affordable power 24-hours a day to Australians, creating a cleaner future for all.”

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60 Responses to A South Australian wind farm helps the ACT create history
Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:33 am 07 Oct 19

I am not sure who to attribute the article to but whoever it was left out this important development:


Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:42 am 05 Oct 19

This is perhaps why the ACT Government won’t build them in the Territory.


    Spiral Spiral 10:57 am 05 Oct 19

    As someone who has lived in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley with its brown coal power stations, I’ll take those wind turbines any day if we are comparing them for safety and environmental harm.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 6:11 pm 05 Oct 19

    You lived in the Latrobe Valley amongst all those evil brown power stations and you lived to tell the tale?


Jason Schuster Jason Schuster 9:32 am 05 Oct 19

You mean the ones that always break down?

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 8:57 pm 02 Oct 19

“… as the final infrastructure has been put in place to help the ACT reach its 100 per cent renewable electricity target.”

Much like the fabulous new public transport system – it may not be available when (and where) people actually need it, but if you maintain an hypnotic focus on aggregate statistics, it’s all doubleplusgood.

Stuart Yorston Stuart Yorston 5:00 pm 01 Oct 19

So, when the wind doesn't blow, do we get five minutes of power from SA's Tesla batteries?

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 9:29 pm 01 Oct 19

    Five and a half minutes, Stu!

    Adrian Gab Adrian Gab 7:16 am 02 Oct 19

    Stuart Yorston to think that the battery's sole purpose is to fill up full and fully discharge is like someone who thinks a car's only use for driving up and down your drive way. Do some research on what the battery is used for and how well it's performing.

    Stuart Yorston Stuart Yorston 8:47 am 02 Oct 19

    Of course it works when the wind blows.... but who needs it then?

Natalie Grey Natalie Grey 3:31 pm 01 Oct 19

Except that even spinning at full capacity for their maximum life-span, they will never generate back as much power as it took to manufacture, transport, install and maintain them in the first place...

    Marlon Leicester Marlon Leicester 10:03 pm 01 Oct 19

    Natalie Grey source? I think you'll find that energetically they pay off completely (including transport and construction) within around 2-3 years.

    A common pitfall is to then make a comparison to something like coal or oil, but pretend there wasn't copious amounts of energy also put into finding, extracting, transporting, and processing those resources before they could actually be used to generate electricity.

    Marlon Leicester Marlon Leicester 10:04 pm 01 Oct 19


    Easy article read, but the Vestas lifecycle analysis linked is a great technical piece.

    Michael Mitchell Michael Mitchell 8:57 am 02 Oct 19


Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:41 pm 01 Oct 19

In the winter time we will purchase renewable energy but it may not arrive – nevertheless it will give Mr Rattenbury a warm feeling.

Spiral Spiral 1:17 pm 01 Oct 19

To me it seems a bit like a company claiming all its call centre staff are Australian. Then admitting many of them are actually off shore, but for every one of them the company is donating money to subsidize apprentices in the Australian construction industry.

Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 12:23 pm 01 Oct 19

All for more renewables but feel this is virtue signalling until Australia produces more clean energy.

    Michael Gormly Michael Gormly 12:58 pm 01 Oct 19

    How is it virtue-signalling? They use X amount of energy and agree to buy that much from clean generators. Actual money and energy change hands. I agree we should be producing and storing much more clean energy but that does not detract from this important step.

    Rob Chalmers Rob Chalmers 2:03 pm 01 Oct 19

    Michael Gormly With a Federal Govt almost hostile to renewables and not creating the tax environment for it to grow it is. The ACT pays an inflated price for green energy generated 1500ks away without really creating more demand for green energy. It should be opt in if you want to pay more for green energy or opt out if not.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:27 am 01 Oct 19

Does anyone know what happened to the Googong Mini Hydro generator and the one installed between the Angle Crossing take-up pump and Googong Dam?

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:41 pm 01 Oct 19

    No one knows then?

    Funny how the renewables narrative only talks about perceived achievements and buries the failures.

M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 11:22 am 01 Oct 19

So just to clarify, the ACT generates about five per cent of the territory's electricity within its borders. The rest comes from the national electricity market, 80 per cent of which is derived from non-renewable sources. Yay!

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 11:28 am 01 Oct 19

    Martin Leonard true, it’s not calculated by where the power is generated, but rather where it is purchased. So it can be fed into the grid in other states - but the equivalent amount of power that is used in ACT is purchased as renewable energy into the grid, which makes our usage 100% Renewable.

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 11:30 am 01 Oct 19

    Ella Factor Thanks Ella. Personally I think that's a bit of a stretch to claim this qualifies us for the "100 per cent renewable" club but I see your perspective.

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 12:16 pm 01 Oct 19

    Martin Leonard it might also help to point out that it’s the ACT Government that caused this extra renewables generation to be built in the first place, due to offering 20 year purchase contracts to fund the builds. So ACT Government has assured that sufficient extra renewable electricity generation has been built in order for ACT to purchase 100% Renewable energy from the NEM.

    The only other way would have been to build a separate grid to keep the electricity separate from the rest of the NEM, which would not have been very efficient!

    Michael Gormly Michael Gormly 1:02 pm 01 Oct 19

    Clean energy and money change hands. It seems real enough to me.

    Chris Devery Chris Devery 1:04 pm 01 Oct 19

    Ella Factor naa, there is no way to send those electrons to the ACT, so the power comsumed reflects the overall composition of generation sources for the grid as a whole, which is mainly coal or gas. The 100% renewable claim is objectively false and just misleading virtue signalling.

    Ella Factor Ella Factor 1:18 pm 01 Oct 19

    Chris Devery mate, you know we share an electricity grid right?

    Its called the NEM.

    Electrons go in, electrons come out, nobody can tell from which generator each electron was produced, it’s basically a pool.

    So can you 100% assure me that none of the electrons coming out of the grid in the ACT were generated in SA?

    Its a rather specious argument.

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 1:31 pm 01 Oct 19

    Chris Devery our generation is 100% renewable. Thats what we are buying. The idea that it needs to be in a independent grid to count is a bit silly.

    Chris Devery Chris Devery 2:17 pm 01 Oct 19

    Guy Manton no, just because you pay windmills in SA for power does not mean your power is 100% renewable. It is mainly sourced from fossil fuels and supplied through the grid. To claim otherwise is sophistry.

    M.J. Leonard M.J. Leonard 9:16 pm 01 Oct 19

    Ella Factor Not sold on that one. To my mind, saying you rely 100 per cent on renewables is to rely 100 per cent on renewables. As another contributor has pointed out, the ACT Government is resorting to sophistry. I get that it's a work in progress but this claim will not win anyone over.

Matt Curvey Matt Curvey 10:57 am 01 Oct 19

I'm still looking for the wind farm inside the ACT? Oh I forgot there is none but hey we'll keep the dream alive by sticking them up everywhere else.

    Michael Gormly Michael Gormly 1:02 pm 01 Oct 19

    I don't see the problem with that.

    Guy Manton Guy Manton 1:32 pm 01 Oct 19

    Matt Curvey why dont we build them where they are most efficient? That seems more practical.

Terry Cooper Terry Cooper 10:47 am 01 Oct 19

The ultimate in virtue signalling.... sigh.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 10:39 am 01 Oct 19

“…….when one of the coal fired stations had problems.”

That would be the one that the Andrews government gleefully blew up. They sure are a problem when they don’t generate electricity anymore.

Tony Jim Tony Jim 10:37 am 01 Oct 19

Silly question, but how can the ACT claim this when we don’t own the infrastructure?

    Tony Jim Tony Jim 11:15 am 01 Oct 19

    Ian McLeod ok. Thanks for clearing that up 👍🏼

Brent Carlisle Brent Carlisle 10:37 am 01 Oct 19


    Michael Gormly Michael Gormly 1:04 pm 01 Oct 19

    Shellenberger is a paid shill of the nuclear industry. He has been well rebutted many times. I looked him up!

    Michael Gormly Michael Gormly 1:07 pm 01 Oct 19

    Tip: If you are serious about checking stuff, type "rebuttal" after your search. Then you have to assess the quality of the rebuttals of course. Fact-checked sources get more points. I also search for who is funding each side. Follow the money.

    Brent Carlisle Brent Carlisle 1:09 pm 01 Oct 19

    Michael Gormly but he has a very strong case. There is a lot of information on how useless renewables are and how damaging they are to the environment. Germany is a classic example. Unfortunately it has noting to do about the planet. It’s all about the money and power 😞

Chris Devery Chris Devery 10:12 am 01 Oct 19

Have to scratch my head about this one. The electricity produced by this farm is supplied to the grid along with the electricity generated by coal, gas, hydro and solar. There is no magic process to send those electrons to the ACT, or to separate them from the nasty coal based electrons. When SA has a deficit of electricity on still days the net flow is from Vic and NSW as Coal generated electricity props up the chaotic SA generation system. This is just dodgy accounting.

    Shane Jasprizza Shane Jasprizza 10:14 am 01 Oct 19

    Ideology Accounting.

    Zak Collins Zak Collins 10:21 am 01 Oct 19

    its net- zero. even if the energy is made elsewhere as long as it's owned by the ACT it can be considered to be generated here. just because the we won't be using the power being generated doesn't mean it won't be a benefit as a whole to the country. it's most definitely an important part of our step toward 100% renewable energy

    Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 10:32 am 01 Oct 19

    Chris Devery

    Actually last summer SA provided electricity to Vic, when one of the coal fired stations had problems.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 12:36 pm 01 Oct 19

    It is not dodgy. There are some practical limitations for what the ACT can do. But the ACT is paying for 100% of its electricity use, through renewable sources. We are paying for this wind farm in SA to run and provide electricity. Yes we still have a reliance on other forms of electricity, but the ACT is paying only for renewables right now. It means we have the cheapest electricity ion the country, which is funny cause the politicians would have you believe otherwise. We are paying for the cheap form of electricity and people in all states are using it. People in other states are paying for more expensive coal power plants etc and yes we are using that electricity out of the grid also.

    Trevor Watson Trevor Watson 12:46 pm 01 Oct 19

    Justin Watson you dont think it more efficient had they bought a wind farm closer to the point of supply? Then at least there would be far fewer transmission losses...

    Chris Devery Chris Devery 12:54 pm 01 Oct 19

    Ian McLeod sure, but it's just a lie that the ACT is 100% renewable, when like everywhere else the individual electrons consumed there are mainly sourced from coal generators.

    Michael Gormly Michael Gormly 12:56 pm 01 Oct 19

    Trevor Watson On the other hand the time difference means solar energy will still be generated in SA as Canberra enters night time.

    Gary Buick Gary Buick 2:45 pm 01 Oct 19

    Ian McLeod Only reason it was "failed coal" is because the lefties and greenies refuse to maintain the system.

    Chris Devery Chris Devery 2:49 pm 01 Oct 19

    Ian McLeod yep, I knew that in relation to electrons, most people don't. But the fact is that ACT is not 100% renewable as most of its power is sourced from fossil fuel generators.

    Lin Van Oevelen Lin Van Oevelen 7:07 pm 01 Oct 19

    They never claimed they could go off the grid.

    As a already mentioned above, it's like solar panels on your roof producing 100% of the electricity that you use in your house all year round. Even if you may draw electricity from the grid at night, you're creating 0 emissions from your electricity use.

    Tom Porter Tom Porter 8:06 am 02 Oct 19

    Gary Buick who is in government. If the companies running the old coal fired power stations don't think it is commercially viable to repair them, that is their decision.

    Chris Devery Chris Devery 11:29 pm 02 Oct 19

    Ian McLeod not even the ABC thinks the ACT is 100% renewable.


Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:15 am 01 Oct 19

The operative word in this media release is “transition” as there is is no way the ACT can be fully run on renewables at this time.

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