EnergyAus joins party in bid to build offshore wind farm

Photo: File

Philip Hopkins

ENERGYAustralia has joined a major international consortium that wants to build a big offshore wind farm in Bass Strait in the Gippsland wind farm zone.

The purpose-built consortium, Elanora Offshore, aims to develop a five-gigawatt offshore wind project off the Gippsland coast within Australia’s first declared wind farm area.

Apart from EnergyAustralia, owner of the 1450MW Yallourn power station and an energy retailer with 1.6 million customers across eastern Australia, consortium members include Boskalis, a world-leading offshore wind contractor with a fleet of more than 650 specialist vessels.

Other partners are Respect Energy, global specialists in green power purchase structures, and Polpo Investments, which has previously developed grid-scale solar plants in Australia.

The project would involve 21-megawatt turbines, about 270 metres tall to the tips of the blades, located far offshore as to limit their visibility from the coast.

Elanora Offshore said it had funding commitments in place from leading global investors, bringing together companies with great experience in delivering offshore wind and energy infrastructure projects in Europe, Asia and Australia.

The Elanora Offshore consortium is led by the two female founders of KIMAenergy, who have previously worked on more than 15GW of offshore wind projects in Europe and Asia and who will manage the project with a team out of Victoria.

Elanora wants to develop its mega project in two stages, each with 2.5GW of capacity.

The first phase would come online in 2032 and the second by the end of 2034.

The Australian Financial Review reported that Elanora was targeting financial close for the first phase by early 2029, with each partner committed to contribute funding and financial investors also to be brought in.

Elanora Offshore’s chief executive, Maya Malik, is moving back to Australia after more than 15 years working on offshore wind and energy infrastructure projects in Europe and Asia.

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

“Each consortium member serves a purpose and is a leader in their field. Our approach has been to bring together the expertise needed to address the key challenges of developing offshore wind projects in new markets.

“Our aim is to implement world-leading, sustainable offshore wind technology with agility. We want to be part of a just transition – delivering benefits for local communities and minimising environmental impact.”

The consortium is one of 37 proposals submitted to the federal government for large wind farms off Gippsland, of which it is believed only five or six are expected to gain licenses.

Wind energy was one of the renewable energy projects that featured greatly at the Gippsland New Energy Conference in Sale.

Bass Strait off Gippsland is regarded as having an excellent combination of attributes for wind energy – untapped wind resources, shallow sea waters, the nearby grid connections in the Latrobe Valley and proximity to major urban centres.

The Yallourn power station is scheduled to be closed in 2028.

The company’s head of portfolio investment, Dan Nugent, said offshore wind was a clean energy source that can replace part of the capacity lost through the retirement of Yallourn, while also providing a source of new employment for Yallourn power station workers.

The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar is assessing the licence applications.

Criteria include a venture’s technical and financial capability, the project’s commercial viability, engagement with stakeholders, timing and local content and jobs.

Ms Malik told the AFR Elanora expected to hear in November whether it met the criteria for a licence. The company would then have to take part in a process to resolve any overlap between the area it had applied for and any others’ applications.