25/01/2019 - 14:01

APA's Badgingarra wind farm producing power

25/01/2019 - 14:01

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Electricity has started flowing from APA Group’s Badgingarra wind farm in recent days, while two of the state’s major coal generating units have been powered down due to low demand.

There are numerous existing wind farms in WA, including at Albany and Emu Downs.

Electricity has started flowing from APA Group’s Badgingarra wind farm in recent days, while two of the state’s major coal generating units have been powered down due to low demand.

Badgingarra, located near Jurien Bay, has a capacity of up to 130 megawatts, with the power sold on an offtake agreement to Alinta Energy in early 2017.

At the time, capital cost was estimated at $315 million.

Power started entering the grid in mid-January, with about 13.8GWh produced so far.

Contractors on the project included Siemens, which produced the turbines, and Mammoet, which transported them.

APA Group did not respond to an enquiry by Business News, with the project yet to have an official launch, but data on power production is available via the Australian Energy Market Operator.

In May, Business News reported the project would have a second phase, a 17.5MW solar farm, after Alinta signed on for an additional offtake deal.

Two other major wind farm projects are in the pipeline in the Mid West – Synergy’s 180MW Warradarge, and Alinta’s Yandin.

AEMO data also shows how the increasing penetration of renewables in Western Australia will affect coal.

Around 1:30pm today, the aggregate load across the network was just below 1.5GW, while wind turbines spun and rooftop solar performed in clear skies.

Wind was producing around 306MW, but had hit highs of around 400MW of supply overnight.

By comparison, two units from Synergy’s coal fleet were off, according to AEMO.

Muja 5, part of the Muja C plant, and Muja 7, part of Muja D, were both available but powered down.

Synergy’s coal fleet was producing an aggregate 336MW, about 30 per cent of capacity.

In fact, there were numerous half-hour trading intervals in recent days where the balancing market cleared at a negative price, on top of about 33 intervals in the first three weeks of January.

That means generators were effectively paying for power to be taken.

All of this illustrates a couple of the major questions power market players are grappling with at the moment.

Powering coal generators up and down to cushion renewable supply can increase their maintenance costs considerably.

But coal also brings ancillary benefits to the market on an engineering level, such as maintenance of stable system frequencies.

The other major consideration is mechanisms to store excess power so generators don’t need to be shut off, with eastern states exploring pumped hydro storage and batteries to save up power for moments of higher demand.

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