Spinifex (a 100% owned subsidiary of Alinta Energy) will complete a wind resource assessment and initial development activities to improve understanding of the commercial viability of a 1,000 MW offshore wind farm off the coast of Portland, Victoria. Subject to agreement with Alcoa Portland Aluminium, Spinifex is proposed to supply energy to the smelter operations and/or to the National Electricity Market (NEM) via the existing 500kV transmission network from the smelter substation.
Aluminium smelting produces approximately 20.1 Mt CO2-e emissions per annum, which represents approximately 4% of Australia’s GHG emissions. Alcoa’s current operations require low cost electricity to support the ongoing, international competitiveness of aluminium metal production in Australia.
Aluminium smelters have traditionally relied on grid-connected, dispatchable, thermal power generation. Variable renewable generation such as wind and solar has had limited integration with aluminium smelters due the intermittency of renewable generation.
A preliminary desktop analysis conducted by Alinta Energy determined that Portland is an ideal site for an offshore wind farm based on the combination of factors including wind resource, proximity to a network connection and customer load, and suitable site area to host up to 1,000 MW of wind turbine capacity. This offshore wind farm would produce a forecast gross annual energy equivalent to more than 90% of the smelter’s current annual gross electricity demand.
The project includes the following activities:
- Deploy and operate land-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) equipment to validate the wind resource at the proposed site and inform wind yield assessments
- Commence community and stakeholder engagement
- Conduct preliminary financial modelling
- Investigate the regulatory pathway for obtaining feasibility and commercial licences under the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act)
- Scope planning and environmental approvals required for the proposed offshore wind farm.
The objectives for the project will be achieved through the following outcomes:
- Reduce barriers to offshore wind energy developments by demonstrating a pathway to secure required feasibility licences and commercial licences under the OEI Act
- Improve commercial readiness of the proposed offshore wind farm through wind resource measurement and validation and preliminary feasibility analysis
- Improve understanding of the requirements for land-based wind resource monitoring and how land-based LiDAR equipment can contribute to developing a bankable data set for offshore wind developments in Australia
- Increase knowledge of social licence issues for offshore wind developments in Australia and improve understanding of strategies for effective stakeholder engagement
- Improve understanding of the technical and commercial considerations for integrating variable renewable energy generation with a large, continuous industrial load, such as a smelter.
The outcomes of the project will also inform Spinifex’s decision to proceed with further development activities for the proposed offshore wind farm.