October 6 (Renewables Now) - The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing funding to support Alinta Energy Ltd in the early-stage development of a 1-GW offshore wind project that could power the Portland Aluminium Smelter.
Spinifex Offshore Wind Farm Pty Ltd, a unit of Alinta, will get AUD 1.5 million (USD 1m/EUR 1m) in ARENA funding for the AUD-3.47-million first phase of the offshore wind project. It involves wind resource and commercial viability assessment, stakeholder and community consultations and other early stage project development activities.
In December 2021, Alinta said the project would entail an investment of up to AUD 4 billion. The plan is to connect the offshore wind farm to the National Electricity Market (NEM) via the substation at the Portland Aluminium Smelter and demonstrate the direct integration of variable renewable power production with a large, continuous, industrial load. The smelter, capable of churning out 358,000 tonnes of aluminium per year, accounts for roughly 10% of the state of Victoria’s power demand.
The Spinifex project, if realised, will support the transition to low-carbon metals. “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,” commented ARENA CEO Darren Miller.
According to ARENA, at present there are more than 20 offshore wind projects in early stages of development in Australia. Spinifex has certain advantages such as an available grid connection point, a potential customer, a port, and suitable topography, Alinta Energy MD & CEO Jeff Dimery noted.
(AUD 1 = USD 0.645/EUR 0.650)