Alinta Energy’s offshore wind farm at stake to power Portland aluminum smelter


The Tomago aluminum smelter in New South Wales, the country’s largest consumer of electricity, partly owned by Rio Tinto, also aims to switch to a predominantly renewable power supply in 2029 when its expiration date. current electricity contract.

Opportunity to decarbonize industry

Alcoa, the Portland smelter’s largest shareholder, reached a new agreement last month to supply the plant with conventional electricity while stressing its goal of switching it to cleaner energy.

Ron Jorgensen, director of the foundry, said the offshore wind farm offered an opportunity to decarbonize the industry and improve the long-term viability of the plant.

“This proposal offers the possibility of having a radical impact on Portland Aluminum’s carbon footprint, and we welcome the opportunity to participate in supporting the early phases of investigation of such an exciting renewable project on the energy landscape. Australian, ”he said in a statement. declaration.

Wind monitoring, site surveys and public consultation for the project will begin in the new year.

Kris Lynch, head of Alinta’s project development, said existing data suggested that Portland Bay has an “excellent” wind resource that would be suitable for powering offshore wind turbines and that monitoring equipment would verify that this ‘is the case in the larger area.

“The area we are studying is about 500 km² and about 10 km from the shore, and the advantage of this proposal is that we can connect to the grid through the foundry and we won’t need to build any new lines. electric on private land. ,” he said.

“We believe the wind farm would need to be around 1000 MW to be viable.”

Decisions on the location of wind turbines and their size have not yet been made and will be informed by the data collected, through the approval and consultation processes.

The offshore wind sector in Australia is only just getting started despite its advanced state of development in the markets of Northern Europe and parts of Asia.

Development of the industry will be facilitated by the passage last month of Commonwealth legislation authorizing the construction and operation of clean energy projects off Australia’s 34,000 kilometers of coastline.

Broad support needed

In Port Kembla, BlueScope and Shell will also work with other organizations to develop a potential hydrogen hub in the wider Illawarra region, including looking at hydrogen sourcing and uptake, renewable energy sourcing and hydrogen and electricity infrastructure.

BlueScope chief executive Mark Vassella said Shell had brought global expertise and was excited about the potential. But it also needed the support of governments, regulators and customers for a hydrogen hub in Illawarra.

“Any potential future hydrogen hub in Illawarra will need broad support from governments, regulators, customers and suppliers,” he said.

The MoU follows an agreement signed Oct. 29 between BlueScope and Rio Tinto to explore ways to reduce carbon emissions at the Port Kembla steel plant, using a potential pilot plant to test new technologies.

BlueScope uses funds from a $ 150 million Climate Action Fund it set up to help fund projects designed to reduce carbon emissions across the company.

The steel industry is one of the biggest emitters in the world, and industry experts say it accounts for around 8% of the world’s carbon emissions.

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