Neoen proposes 900MW wind and battery hub in Victorian pine plantation

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Neoen is taking its plans for a 900MW wind and battery storage project, proposed for construction in a west Victorian pine plantation, to local councils and communities.

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Plans for a massive 900MW wind and battery storage project, proposed to span 30km of a pine plantation in Victoria’s far west, will be put to surrounding communities and local governments over coming weeks by developers, Neoen.

French-owned Neoen, which is in the midst of a separate major wind and battery storage project in Bulgana in Victoria – said it was currently holding initial consultations with neighbours of the proposed Kentbruck Green Power Hub, as well as with local council.

This would be followed by two public information sessions on the 15th and 16th April, 2019, the company said.

Neoen described the proposed 900MW wind farm and battery storage facility – which would span 30km in the far-west of Victoria, between the towns of Portland and Nelson – as the first of its kind in Australia, for its location in an actively managed and harvested pine forest.

And it may well be – but only if it beats OSMI Australia to the punch. That company, as of just last week, is proposing to build a 300MW wind farm in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, on plantation land spanning three different local government areas.

As we reported here, that project, the Delburn Wind Farm, is also described as being at the community consultation phase.

Neoen, meanwhile, is no stranger to being at the bleeding edge of innovation in renewables, with hosting of the 100MW/129MWh Tesla big battery at its Hornsdale wind farm, and its under construction Bulgana Green Power Hub, which will deliver 100 per cent renewable energy to what will be the country’s biggest vegetable glasshouse, owned by Nectar Farms.

Elsewhere it has state government approval for a 160MW wind farm with supporting battery storage near Cairns in far north Queensland – the Kaban renewable energy hub; and is working to get up plans for a wind, solar and 50MW hydrogen “electrolyser” power hub at Crystal Brook north of Adelaide.

The Kentbruck project presents new and unique challenges, however, with 900MW-worth of turbines to be installed within a pine plantation owned by Mount Gambier company GTFP.

The practice of siting wind farms in forestry plantations is not uncommon in Europe, however, where new generations of turbines with higher towers and longer blades have opened up previously unobtainable sites to development.

Location aside, the sheer size of the Kentbruck project could also raise concerns among locals, making the consultation process Neoen is about to embark upon as important as it is ever was.

“While we are still in the early stages of the project, Neoen’s policy is to maintain an open and consistent dialogue with local councils, communities and neighbours from the very beginning,” said Neoen Australia managing director Franck Woitiez.

“The community information sessions with the people of Portland and Nelson will allow us to share more details on our proposed development and address any potential concerns early on.”

Woitiez said that as part of Neoen’s environment impact studies for the Kentbruck project, it would be engaging independent experts and consultants to carry out detailed ecological assessments, in particular to ensure that local fauna was not endangered by the project.

For its part, GTFP says it is happy to be working with Neoen on the proposed project.

“We believe it will benefit the local community and provide clean, renewable energy on a national scale,” said managing director Laurie Hein.

“We have been impressed with Neoen’s thorough approach to planning for this project, providing GTFP with confidence the project will properly address any concerns that we and other community stakeholders may have.”

Neon said the public drop-in sessions would provide the local community with details of the project and an opportunity to raise any questions around the proposed development.

The drop-in session for the Nelson community will be held at the local CFA Hall on Monday April 15, between 2pm and 7pm. The session for the Portland community will be held at the Portland Library, on Tuesday April 16, from 2pm to 7pm.

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