The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said last week that it has dedicated A$1.5 million toward a wind resource assessment by Spinifex Offshore Wind Farm Pty Ltd aimed at developing a 1,000 MW offshore wind farm to support the Portland aluminium smelter.
Per ARENA, the new wind farm would be connected to the National Electricity Market (NEM) at the Portland Aluminium Smelter’s substation. The energy generated by the wind farm would provide the aluminium smelter low-carbon energy, helping to drop its overall carbon emissions.
ARENA says this is the first phase of a multi-phasic project intended to develop an array of wind farms as well as an effort at understanding their commercial viability. Part of the overall scheme includes installation of land-based Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) intended to validate the wind power produced at the Portland wind farm. Spinifex, which is a subsidiary of Alinta Energy Ltd., also plans to consult with stakeholders and the local community as well as undertaking legally required planning and environmental studies of the project.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said in a press release that this is his organization’s first foray into the field of developing wind energy for an aluminium smelter.
“Metals production, especially aluminium, represents one of Australia’s most energy intensive industries. We have a real need to help reduce emissions from smelters, which require a steady and sizeable supply of electricity to operate. Offshore wind could be a potential part of the solution space to this problem.”
“Further, the early stage wind resource assessment of the Spinifex project will provide the industry with valuable insights regarding commercial, technical and regulatory aspects of offshore wind developments in Australia,” he continued.
“Spinifex has terrific potential because the region has strong wind and the project has a ready-made grid connection point, a potential customer, a port, and suitable topography,” noted Alinta Energy MD & CEO Jeff Dimery. “Given the offshore wind industry is in its infancy, the support from ARENA will be critical to reaching the next stage,”