Case studies

270MW Sapphire Wind Farm uses new efficient Vestas technology

The 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm, located between Glen Innes and Inverell in northern NSW, will feature the latest Vestas turbine technology, as well as transformers manufactured in Australia.

When completed, the Sapphire Wind Farm is expected to supply enough electricity to power 110,000 average households and abate carbon emissions by approximately 600,000 tonnes a year.

The project will be the first in Australia to use the new Vestas V126 3.6MW turbine, which has one of the best available rates of energy production per turbine. The use of 75 Vestas turbines will build on Vestas' presence in the Australian market, leading to an improved supply chain for turbine equipment and cost efficiencies.

A consortium between Vestas and Zenviron will deliver the project, with Vestas supplying and commissioning the turbines, and Zenviron delivering the balance of plant. The wind farm's transformers are being manufactured by the Wilson Transformer Company, Australia's largest manufacturer of power transformers.

TransGrid will build, operate and maintain an on-site substation connecting the Sapphire project to the national energy grid.

In a boost to the local community, the project will contribute to a Community Fund at the rate of $2,500 per turbine per year over the life of the project, to support local community interest groups and activities. Community members, local council and project representatives will jointly manage the Community Fund.

The project has secured a 20-year feed-in-tariff with the ACT Government for 100MW capacity and will trade the remainder of its output on a merchant basis.

The CEFC has committed up to $120 million towards the project as part of a senior secured debt facility which also involves the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) and Denmark's export credit agency EKF. Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, has provided the majority of the equity funding, with project developer CWP Renewables retaining a minority equity stake.

Project financing for large-scale greenfield renewable energy assets has generally seen a reluctance to take on price or merchant risk. With this area of financing still evolving, the CEFC is pleased to work alongside other commercial financiers in the Sapphire project to help demonstrate the bankability of such projects and give confidence to other developers seeking finance for projects which have an element of merchant risk.