Lincoln Gap Wind Farm set to double in capacity

Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, Nexif Energy Founder Matthew Bartley and land owner Bruce Nutt on a site tour of the Lincoln Gap Wind Farm earlier this year.
Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, Nexif Energy Founder Matthew Bartley and land owner Bruce Nutt on a site tour of the Lincoln Gap Wind Farm earlier this year.

A controversial deal brokered by the state government will see positive flow on effects for Port Augusta as the Lincoln Gap wind farm doubles in capacity.

Premier Stephen Marshall has privatised the operation of two emergency power stations built by his Labor predecessor.

Nexif Energy, the company behind the Lincoln Gap Wind Farm, and Infigen Energy have both signed 25-year lease agreements to operate the state's nine backup generating units currently located at Elizabeth and Lonsdale.

Nexif Energy will relocate five gas turbine generating units from their current site at the former Holden factory to a new permanent power station site at Outer Harbor.

Nexif Energy Founder and Co-CEO Matthew Bartley said the agreement complements plans to expand Lincoln Gap's wind capacity from the existing 212MW up to about 457MW.

"Nexif Energy already has a strong presence in South Australia thanks to our $500 million investment in the Lincoln Gap Wind Farm, near Port Augusta, and we're pleased to be able to add to our investment with the development of the new gas fired power station utilising the five leased generators," He said.

"Through this investment in dispatchable generation, we're aiming to offer firm baseload style contracts from renewable energy generated predominately from existing and future stages of our Lincoln Gap project."

The initial 212MW stages Lincoln Gap wind farm, currently in operation and under construction, totals 59 wind turbines and comprises a 10MW battery storage system capable of producing enough electricity to power approximately 155,000 households in South Australia once fully complete.

Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the agreement would recover $219 million for taxpayers, avoiding a further $267 million in future relocation, conversion and maintenance costs

"South Australian taxpayers will now avoid the lion's share of the $609 million bill they faced under Labor's policy to exclude the generators from year round operation for the next 25 years," he said.

"The generators will remain in South Australia and will be available for emergency use during the summer when they are most likely to be needed.

"This arrangement will save the South Australian Government approximately $1 million per month it would have spent maintaining the unused generators in readiness."

But Shadow Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the privatisation leaves the state at risk.

"These generators were built to protect South Australia against blackouts - and they are doing their job," he said.

"But we know once these assets are in the hands of private operators, South Australia will lose control. In an energy crisis, minutes matter, and we will be at the mercy of a private operator to keep the lights on."