Partners Group backs $348m Australian wind farm

The plant, one of three projects auctioned off last September, will have a capacity of 240MW upon completion.

Partners Group, the Swiss-headquartered asset manager, has invested into the development of Australia's Ararat Wind Farm on behalf of its clients. The firm is the largest shareholder in the 240-megawatt project, which also counts UK-based developer Renewable Energy Systems (RES), the US' General Electric and Canadian pension OPTrust as investors. 

Originally developed by RES, the project has a total cost of A$450 million (€310.8 million; $347.7 million). It is part of a wind development programme launched in March 2014 and which ended with a competitive process closed in September last year. The auction also comprised the 19.4MW Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm north-west of Bendigo, in the state of Victoria, and the 100MW Hornsdale Wind Farm, located south-east of Port Augusta, South Australia. 

The project is being developed by Windlab, a Canberra-based renewable energy company.

“The three successful proposals will deliver a range of benefits for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) through a $50 million local investment package, including 11 full-time local jobs, a new national trades training centre and new courses for Canberra’s higher education institutions,” ACT’s Environment and Planning Directorate said in a statement.

Ararat Wind Farm is a new-build wind farm located to the west of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. Construction on the site will commence immediately, with completion scheduled for mid-2017. Once completed, the wind farm's 75 turbines will have a combined capacity of 240MW, making it Australia's third-largest wind farm. It is expected to generate enough energy to power about 123,000 homes annually.

“Ararat Wind Farm is a well-structured project with high-quality counterparties and a strong wind resource. The timing of our investment aligns with increased certainty around Australia's Renewable Energy Target, which will require a substantial build-out of renewables in the coming years,” said Benjamin Haan, a managing director and head of Asia-Pacific private infrastructure at Partners Group. Haan will join the board of Ararat Wind Farm upon completion of the transaction.     

In February 2015, the project was awarded a 20-year feed-in tariff by the ACT government for a significant portion of its total output.