By Lewis Jackson
SYDNEY, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest committed on Thursday to launch new projects that will help deliver 14 gigawatt (GW) of clean energy in the country by the end of the decade, or a third of the government's renewable energy target.
"The time for talk is over, we are investing right now in Australia’s green energy transition and creating jobs and economic development for regional Australia," Forrest said in a statement.
The commitment is one of the biggest in Australia and will come through a combination of wind, solar and battery projects, many of which are still in the planning stage. They will be shepherded by Squadron Energy, which is wholly owned by Tattarang, the Forrest family holding company.
A spokesperson declined to provide a cost estimate for the project pipeline but said it would be funded by a combination of Tattarang equity and external parties.
Forrest made the announcement at a ceremony marking the start of construction at the 414 megawatt (MW) Uungula wind farm in rural New South Wales state. The 69-turbine, A$1 billion ($671 million) project is the largest under construction in the state.
Squadron Energy on Thursday also signed an A$2.75 billion agreement with GE Vernova to supply wind turbines for Uungula and two other proposed wind projects in the state.
Should it be built, the portfolio of projects will go a long way in helping the centre-left Labor government achieve its goal of 82% of electricity generated from renewable energy by 2030.
It is an ambition which has faced serious hurdles, ranging from community opposition to new transmission networks to uncertainty over government subsidies and support.
Forrest's announcement came as plans to turn the seabed off Victoria state into a giant wind farm hub were dealt a blow after the federal government rejected a proposal to expand facilities at the Port of Hastings due to the risk to local wild life.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen said on Wednesday the government would welcome a fresh proposal and the decision would not delay the start of an offshore wind industry because of the long lead times already built into projects.
($1 = 1.4896 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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