Offshore wind farm on the horizon
23rd September, 2022
A PAIR of renewable energy companies are floating the idea of an offshore wind farm along South Australia’s coast, with power feeding into the Victorian grid.
BlueFloat Energy and Energy Estate have teamed up for an offshore wind project to supply power into the Victorian grid via Portland, about 100 kilometres south-east of Mount Gambier.
While the Southern Winds Offshore Winds Project would put renewable electricity into our neighbouring state, the wind farm itself has been proposed to sit off South Australia.
According to the map on the Southern Winds website, the wind farm would stretch from Nene Valley, about 40 kilometres south-west of Mount Gambier, to just west of the Victorian border.
BlueFloat Energy country manager Nick Sankey said this was to balance location with onshore infrastructure to actually feed energy into the grid, but the project would be in Commonwealth waters, not state waters.
“Given that we are proposing to be around 8 kilometres off the coast, we are in Commonwealth waters,” Mr Sankey said.
“There’s no on-shore infrastructure in South Australia, all the on-shore infrastructure is in Victoria.
“Getting access into the existing grid infrastructure … is a big issue for offshore wind farms and that will often dictate where a wind farm is going to be placed.”
If the project gets the all clear, turbines will be installed starting from 8 kilometres off the coast, with some being as far as 10 kilometres out.
Mr Sankey said these should not impact the ocean views of residents in coastal towns like Port MacDonnell, which will be in line with the middle of the wind farm, but turbines could be visible.
“On a clear day, there will be visibility of the turbines, they’ll be sitting on the horizon,” he said.
“What we’re going to do is we’ve been along various parts of the coastline, we’ve identified popular spots where we’re going to be taking a panoramic photo of the sea.
“From there, we’re going to simulate what view of the turbines you would get from each of these points and we’ll be publicly releasing that.”
He said the project plans to be “very open and transparent” with the community about what it may look like from different points.
In regards to commercial and recreational fishing in the area, Mr Sankey said similar projects internationally have actually had quite a positive impact.
“There is some evidence that often some of the build up around the towers has created an artificial reef and has stimulated the fish life,” he said.
“It will all come down to regulations on how much build up and how much marine life will be stimulated around the towers, because there’s also the concern around not upsetting the natural ecosystem and attracting predators into the area.
“We’ll be doing a number of studies to analyse the effects and any potential impacts on the ecosystem, and any changes that may occur.”
Mr Sankey said there are other projects in the works around the Gippsland area and off the coast of New South Wale, so it could be some time before the Southern Winds Project really gets underway.
“We only announced the Southern Winds project back in June, but it’s quite a long development period,” he said.
“We’re looking at around five years of development before actually being in a position to commence construction.
“We’ve just begun the journey, we will be very much out and about in the community to talk to the community about our development.”
Visit southernwindsowp.com for more information, or contact The Border Watch via email@example.com to have your say on the project.