Huge wind farm planned for Victoria’s coal centre, overlooking closed Hazelwood plant

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A 300MW wind farm has been proposed for development on forestry plantation land in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, overlooking the site of the now closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.

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A 300MW wind farm has been proposed for development in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, overlooking the site of the now closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.

The $400-$500 Delburn Wind Farm, which will offer locals the opportunity for community co-investment in the project, is being developed by OMSI Australia on plantation land spanning the Latrobe City, Baw Baw Shire and South Gippsland Shire Councils.

Project developer Peter Marriott from OSMI said that the location for the project, which was currently at the community engagement phase, took inspiration from European examples, where wind turbines often paired with forestry plantations.

“In this case, we are pleased to be operating within a HVP Plantations Latrobe Valley estate, to develop what will be the first forest based wind farm in Australia,” he said.

With construction slated for 2022, Marriott said the company’s first priority would be to hire a local community engagement officer and conduct a public survey for local feedback on the benefit sharing model, investment and any concerns people may have.

OSMI said it would be directly reaching out to those residents identified within 1-2km of the proposed wind turbine locations over the coming month – particularly as the planned 53 turbines will be 250 metres in height.

“We’re talking about turbines which are much taller than what we’ve seen in the region so far,” Marriot told the Latrobe Valley Express.

“For example the ones at Bald Hills, down near Tarwin Lower and Walkerville, are on 80-metre towers with 46-metre blades.

“So we’re talking about double the size of infrastructure but we’re also talking about much bigger, physical generators of electricity too.”

Marriott said the wind farm, once completed, would generate around 10 per cent of the capacity that Hazelwood provided to the grid, enough to power around 220,000 homes.

According to a project outline, more than $3 million a year from the wind farm would go to the local community, including landowners, councils, and project neighbours.

The wind farm proposal is just the latest in a number of promising low-carbon projects targeting the Latrobe Valley, Victoria’s centre for coal fired power generation.

The headquarters of the state government’s Solar Victoria – the body set up to oversee its Solar Homes rebate scheme – was established in Morwell.

And in October last year, plans to build a massive SEA Electric EV assembly factory, most likely also in Morwell, were announced, with backing from the Andrews Labor government.

The facility is expected to employ 500 Latrobe Valley locals, and assemble 2,400 vehicles a year – specialising in the production of electric delivery vans and minibuses using SEA Electric’s proprietary, and world-first, electric drive technology.

Also in October, it was announced that the Latrobe Valley would host Australia’s “largest” renewable energy microgrid, after a $15 million solar and battery storage project proposed by a consortium of local companies was announced as the winner of a $3 million state government grant.

That project led by SGSP Assets (Jemena) subsidiary, Ovida, aims to deliver 7.5MW of solar PV and 1.5MWh of battery storage across potentially 75 sites (an estimated 10 businesses per microgrid), in partnership with shared solar tech start-up Allume Energy, the Moreland Energy Foundation and RMIT.

Environment group Friends of the Earth Melbourne said on Thursday that the proposed wind farm were a further sign the state’s energy sector was in transition.

“Victoria’s energy system is shifting from polluting fossil fuels towards clean renewable energy and it’s good news for efforts to tackle climate change,” said Leigh Ewbank, FoE’s climate spokesperson.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne renewable energy spokesperson, Pat Simons, said making the Delburn wind farm available for community co-investment another change for the better.

“(It’s) a fantastic way to enable people in the region to part-own local renewable energy generation, directly benefit from it, and create new climate jobs,” Simons said.

“This, in turn, will help to keep profits in the local economy. The current energy supply system located in the Latrobe Valley is owned by multinationals. Having an element of local ownership is good for the local community and the people of Victoria.”

OSMI says that community members interested in learning more about the plans for the Delburn Wind farm can fill in a public survey to help guide the project – available here.

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