The 270MW Sapphire Wind Farm, located between Glen Innes and Inverell in northern NSW, features the latest Vestas turbine technology, as well as transformers manufactured in Australia.
The wind farm is generating energy and exporting to the grid. It is expected to supply enough electricity to power 110,000 average households and abate carbon emissions by approximately 600,000 tonnes a year.
It was 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 builds 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 delivered the project, with Vestas supplying and commissioning the turbines, and Zenviron delivering the balance of plant. The wind farm's transformers were manufactured by the Wilson Transformer Company, Australia's largest manufacturer of power transformers.
TransGrid built, operates and maintains an on-site substation connecting the Sapphire project to the national energy grid.
In a boost to the local community, the project contributes 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 jointly manage the Community Fund.
The project has secured a 20-year feed-in-tariff with the ACT Government for 100MW capacity and trades 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.