1 GW Offshore Wind Project in Australia Planned to Power Aluminium Smelter

Australian renewable energy company Alinta Energy has revealed plans for a 1,000 MW wind farm offshore Portland in southwestern Victoria, which would supply electricity to the Portland Aluminium Smelter and the east coast grid.

The project, named Spinifex Offshore Wind Farm and valued at AUD 4 billion (approx. EUR 2.5 billion), would connect to the grid via the smelter and would make the site among Australia’s first smelters to be powered by up to 100 per cent renewables.

Furthermore, by linking to the grid via the smelter, the project would not require building new powerlines on private land, according to Kris Lynch, Alinta Energy’s Head of Project Development.

The next steps for the company are conducting wind monitoring, site surveys, and commencing consultation in the new year. Alinta Energy is already measuring wind and conducting initial investigations at the site to confirm its suitability. 

Source: Alinta Energy

“Existing data suggest Portland Bay has an excellent wind resource that would be suitable to power offshore wind turbines. What we’re doing now is deploying monitoring equipment to ensure that’s also the case across the investigation area”, Kris Lynch said.

“We also know the area has environmental, commercial and recreational uses and values that need to be thoroughly investigated and discussed, and we intend to kick off a more regular series of updates and discussions in the first half of 2022″, Lynch said and added that the company was sharing the news at an early stage of the project development in order to speak openly with everyone as the initial investigations progress.

According to the developer, the project would generate thousands of jobs and would be a significant step towards decarbonising Victoria’s grid, as the smelter currently uses around 10 per cent of the state’s electricity.

Portland Aluminium Smelter Manager Ron Jorgensen said the proposal aligned with the aluminium industry’s direction to decarbonise.

“This proposal offers an ability to make a step change impact to Portland Aluminium’s carbon footprint and we welcome the opportunity to be involved in supporting the early phase investigations of this exciting renewable project on the Australian energy landscape”, Ron Jorgensen said.

At the end of the last month, Australia’s Parliament endorsed a package of new laws establishing the regulatory framework around electricity infrastructure projects in Commonwealth waters.

The bills, which passed the final stage in the Senate on 25 November, include the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 will allow the government to designate areas in Commonwealth waters more than three miles offshore for wind energy development. In addition, the accompanying Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Bill 2021 will allow for the imposition of levies on regulated entities to recover the regulatory costs.

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According to earlier information from Friends of the Earth, there are at least ten major offshore wind projects proposed around Australia, including the 2.2 GW Star of the South project proposed for Gippsland.

Photo: Alinta Energy