As coal fired generation retires the logical solution would be for renwable generation developers to use the existing connection points to install either new generation or energy storage. Generally, these locations have the best transmission infrastructure close by and have favourable loss factors.
Increasingly renewable developers are finding it hard to obtain favourable locations to build new projects particularly for solar and wind. Most developers prefer sites next to transmission infrastructure, but more and more renewable developers are struggling to find sites with good solar or wind potential. The wind sector is most influenced by site selection with the majority of the high wind yielding sites already developed.
The question is, do developers now look at redeveloping existing generation sites rather than start with a greenfield site? While there are benefits of a brownfield site, the registration and connection process of a new project is as arduous as developing a whole new new site. Additional connection studies would need to be undertaken and new projects would need to meet more stringent approval processes.
As developers are forced to develop low yielding sites the output of the projects drops and costs increase, so developing an older site may be beneficial if yield is significantly better.
The earlier wind farms were built in the late 1990’s and are now entering the final years of their life. Are these locations ideal for the next generation of wind farms or will developers opt for new sites?
Overseas data suggests repowering an existing site with new more efficient and larger wind turbines has its benefits. At this stage no Australian wind farms have been repowered.
The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) estimates the average wind farm is 15 years old however some are close to 30 years old. The early wind farms are located where the wind resource was seen to be the best.
With offshore wind the next big thing in the industry will we also see the development of larger more efficient wind farms on the same ground as the industry pioneers?