Sapphire Wind Farm adds sparkle to renewables sector
A clean energy generating gem
The 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm, located between Glen Innes and Inverell in northern NSW, features energy efficient Vestas turbine technology, as well as transformers manufactured in Australia. The wind farm has contracted agreements with a variety of corporate customers seeking clean energy sources.
Our investment in the Sapphire Wind Farm is an early example of our ‘bridge to contracting’ finance strategy, which is supporting the accelerated delivery of large-scale renewables projects and contributing to Australia’s transition to net zero emissions by 2050.Ian LearmonthCEO, CEFC
The CEFC investment commitment to the development of the Sapphire Wind Farm in 2016 helped demonstrate the bankability of a large-scale project before it had fully contracted its expected generation output.
The $120 million CEFC commitment was part of a senior secured debt facility which also involved the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Denmark's export credit agency EKF. Partners Group, the global private markets investment manager, provided the majority of the equity funding, with project developer CWP Renewables retaining a minority equity stake.
At the time, CWP Renewables had secured a 20-year feed-in-tariff from the ACT Government for 100MW of Sapphire's expected output. The wind farm subsequently attracted a range of clean energy customers including Commonwealth Bank, Flow Power, Fujitsu, Nestlé and Transurban.
The CEFC finance was repaid in February 2023.
In March 2023 Squadron Energy announced it had acquired CWP Renewables and its development and operational projects, including the Sapphire Wind Farm and Crudine Ridge Wind Farm, which had also received CEFC finance.
Squadron Energy, which reported a 20 GW development pipeline, also secured majority ownership of wind farm operator and developer Windlab, another renewable energy participant previously backed by CEFC finance.
The CEFC estimates some $120 billion of capital expenditure is needed to finance new wind, solar, transmission, storage and ancillary services to 2030 in the national electricity market alone to meet our ambitious national renewable energy and emissions goals. Australia faces a significant challenge to deliver renewable energy generation to meet its emissions reduction ambitions, but there is growing market recognition that the nation has an exciting opportunity to take advantage of its natural resources to drive down emissions.
The CEFC is continuing to invest in major renewable energy generation projects where it is needed to support the delivery of new capacity.
The 270 MW capacity Sapphire Wind Farm, which began generating to the grid in 2018, produces enough clean energy to power some 148,000 homes and avoid an estimated 619,000 tCO2-e annually.
Contributing to wind sector development
The development of the Sapphire Wind Farm contributed to a stronger wind industry in Australia through local employment in the construction phase and through the use of high performing technology solutions.
· Sapphire Wind Farm was the first in Australia to use the Vestas V126 3.6 MW turbine, which had one of the best available rates of energy production per turbine
· The 75 Vestas turbines built 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.
Benefits for the local community
The Sapphire Wind Farm contributes to a community fund that supports local community interest groups and activities. The fund is jointly managed by community members, the local council and project representatives.