London-based renewable energy company Cubico Sustainable Investments has emerged as the principal project investor for the 180-200MW Delburn Wind Farm set to be built in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, overlooking the site of the now closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.
Cubico, one of the world’s leading renewable energy infrastructure companies, announced on Wednesday that it had joined developer OSMI Australia as the joint development partner for the Delburn Wind Farm and will purchase 100% of the project prior to the beginning of construction.
“We are excited to be investing in this innovative project in the Latrobe Valley – Victoria’s energy generation heartland – and are committed to delivering a high-quality project that will support the economic transition of the region, as well as contributing to Victoria’s renewable energy targets,” said David Smith, Cubico’s Head of Australia.
“Cubico is committed to working closely with the community surrounding the project and will honour all commitments made by OSMI, such as maximising local procurement opportunities and the delivery of a best practice Community Benefits Scheme.”
Proposed to be built in a pine plantation owned by HVP Plantations in the Strzelecki Ranges, the turbines will measure 250-metres in height and will generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 125,000 households and will offset 590,000 tones of CO2 each year.
Australian renewable energy development company OSMI Australia will remain as the public face of the project and will provide continued community engagement, development approvals compliance, and land management throughout the construction period and early operations.
“We are really pleased to bring on a project partner that shares our vision and values in delivering leading edge renewable energy projects, with quality technology and communities at the centre of our decision-making framework,” said Peter Marriott, OSMI’s Director.
“The team at Cubico have a strong history in the Australian power generation sector and we look forward to bringing this this project to fruition with them.”
OSMI have their work cut out for them, however, with the project raising concerns, albeit unfounded ones, amongst the local community.
A local group of “concerned residents and family members” calling themselves the Strzelecki Community Alliance boasts 300 households representing over 1,000 individuals within a 3-kilometre radius of the wind farm and have “united to fight the inappropriate deployment of renewable energy technologies in a unique part of Gippsland.”
Describing them as supporting “the responsible deployment of renewable energy technologies” and declaring they are “not opposed to renewable energy,” the group is nevertheless more than willing to peddle all manner of false claims on their website such as health risks from wind turbines and increased bushfire risk.
Ironically, the nearby Hazelwood coal-fired power plant was the site of a major fire before its closure, and the argument over the wind farm was inflames in August of 2020 when a meteorological mast installed at the proposed wind farm site was vandalised, causing it to collapse.
Thankfully, the Alliance is not the only community group interested in the project’s future, with the Strzelecki Sustainable Futures group backing the project.
Earlier this month OSMI Australia submitted an application to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for planning approval for the project, which the developer explained “significantly” reduced the environmental impacts of the project from previous designs.
“It has always been our intention to design a project that sits well within the surrounding environment and minimize impacts on our neighbours,” said Marriott.
“The area of native vegetation to be impacted by the project has been reduced from 42 Ha to approximately 14 Ha with up to 54 large trees to be impacted. It is anticipated that over half of these trees will be able to be retained despite needing to be offset.
All trees that do not need to be physically removed will be left in place unless they become a safety risk.
“Modelled noise outputs demonstrate our design target of 35dB for wind farm noise levels at residential dwellings has been achieved at all but a handful of houses,” Marriott continued.
“For those limited number of dwellings, the noise levels are modelled to be in the 35-37dB range, well below the statutory limit of 40dB – or background plus 5dB.”