Alinta Energy plans 1GW Australian offshore wind farm to power aluminium smelter

Plans for a 1GW project off south-western Victoria to feed into electricity grid and power local smelter

The project would supply the Portland Aluminium Smelter, which is majority-owned by Alcoa
The project would supply the Portland Aluminium Smelter, which is majority-owned by Alcoa

Australian energy company Alinta Energy has announced plans to build a 1GW wind farm 10km off the coast of Portland, in south-western Victoria. The project would supply the Portland Aluminium Smelter, and also connect to the east coast electricity grid.

Wind monitoring, site surveys and consultations are expected to take place next year, before decisions are finalised on the up to A$4 billion ($2.8 billion) investment.

“The area we’re investigating is around 500km2 and about ten kilometres from the shoreline, and the great thing about this proposal is that we can connect to the grid via the smelter and won’t need to build new power lines on private land,” said Kris Lynch, Alinta Energy’s head of project development.

He said the project would need to be around 1GW to be viable, and that early conversations with stakeholders would be critical to informing the company’s plans.

No details on project specifics such as wind turbine size, number and exact location are available at this stage. If it goes ahead, Spinifex is expected to achieve commercial operation around 2030.

Portland Aluminium Smelter manager Ron Jorgensen welcomed the proposal as being fully aligned with the aluminium industry’s direction to decarbonise. The smelter is one of Victoria's largest power users, with estimates placing its annual electricity consumption at 10% of the state's total.

Last month, the Australian government passed legislation paving the way for the construction of offshore wind farms in Commonwealth waters beyond 5.5km from the coast. The site for the proposed Spinifex development is understood to be outside of Commonwealth and state government-protected waters.

According to Windpower Intelligence, the data and research division of Windpower Monthly, Australia has a pipeline of 11.5GW of proposed offshore wind projects — mostly in the very early stages of development.

The Star of the South project, planned for a site off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria, is in line to be Australia’s first offshore wind farm. The government of Victoria pledged A$19.5 million last month to support pre-construction work including site investigations and offshore geotechnical work.

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