Wind Power

21 Aug 2023

EnergyAustralia joins rush to offshore wind with massive 5GW project

21 Aug 2023  by reneweconomy   

One of Australia’s biggest utilities has joined top women in wind power and a global contractor in a bid to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Victoria’s Gippsland region.

EnergyAustralia and Dutch offshore specialist Boskalis are part of a consortium led by Elanora Offshore that is seeking to be one of the first to build offshore wind in Australia.

The new consortium to be officially announced on Monday the intention to develop a five gigawatt project, with funding commitments in place from leading global investors.

The Elanora Offshore project would create over 3000 jobs during the construction phase and 320 jobs during operations.

The grouping is led by the two founders of KIMAenergy, who have worked on over 15GW of offshore wind projects elsewhere and will manage the project out of Victoria.

Elanora Offshore CEO Maya Malik is moving back to Australia after more than 15 years in offshore wind and energy infrastructure in Europe and Asia.

“We are deeply committed to the success of offshore wind in Australia and we want to see it done right,” Malik said.

That means sustainable technology, delivering benefits for local communities and minimising environmental impact, she said.

When fully operational, the project would provide enough clean energy to meet up to 40 per cent of Victoria’s present day energy needs and avoid over 600 million tonnes of carbon emissions over the life of the project.

The gusty waters off Gippsland, Australia’s first declared offshore wind zone, will host several mega projects to replace the state’s ageing coal-fired power stations.

EnergyAustralia operates the Yallourn coal power station in Latrobe Valley that provides one-fifth of Victoria’s power and accounts for eight per cent of Australia’s national electricity market

Yallourn is due to close in 2028 and will be partly replaced with a big battery project that should be completed by 2026.

“We see offshore wind as a clean energy source that can replace part of the capacity lost through the retirement of coal-fired generation,” the energy company’s head of portfolio development Dan Nugent said.

It would also provide another source of new employment for Yallourn workers, he said.

EnergyAustralia has 1.6 million customers across eastern Australia and a future offtake agreement with Elanora Offshore would underpin the commercial viability of the project.

The other partners are Australian-led renewables developer Polpo Investments and European energy trader Respect Energy.

Victoria has set targets for at least 2GW of offshore wind to be in the electricity grid by 2032, 4GW by 2035 and 9GW by 2040.

A growing list of technically feasible options will be reduced to a shortlist of projects for detailed appraisal.

The government will be confirming preferred bidders and next steps in late 2023 to early 2024.


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