The Victorian government supports action on climate change and has set targets of Net Zero Carbon by 2050 and 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. In 2018, renewables provided around 21 per cent of all energy generation in Australia, and 20 per cent of energy generated in Victoria.
A key aspect to making renewable energy a reliable and viable source of energy into the future is diversity in energy source. If we rely on solar alone, there will be no generation at night. Energy storage is also an important factor, and technological advances in energy storage are happening all the time. Wind energy is currently the second largest source of renewable energy in Australia.
There are currently 25 operational wind farms in Victoria, seven under construction, and an additional 12 approved. The majority of these are in the west of the state, meaning they are subject to similar weather patterns and wind regimes. Central Gippsland has different weather patterns to the west of the state and the coast. The Gippsland region has challenges with accessing viable wind regimes on land over enough scale while also being far enough away from people’s homes. The wind regime in Delburn is viable, and is different to other wind farms. The more diversity, the more efficiency in improving renewable energy’s share in the grid. Due to the proximity to the grid, no new transmission lines are required. Transmission lines can have a big impact on local communities and ecology. Grid constraints are one of the major issues with renewables. There is good grid capacity in the Valley due to the closure of Hazelwood, and people with skills and experience in the electrical industry.
Locating them in the middle of nowhere is not feasible due to losses in energy over distance. Electricity ideally needs to be generated as close to the load centres as possible, and where existing transmission infrastructure exists.
The requirements to build roads to transport the components on to site can potentially be very disruptive to locals. The Delburn site has existing over-dimensional road access to site and an existing road network on private property, which will require minimal upgrading, therefore minimising cost and disruption to local communities.
While there is good habitat adjacent to the site, the majority of the Delburn site is highly disturbed, meaning that the existing ecological values are low compared to surrounding areas.
Obviously, there is an existing high risk of fire in this region. OSMI is working with HVP to ensure the wind farm would have a net-positive benefit to the mitigation of fire risk.
There are many other technical reasons why the Delburn site is an appropriate site for a wind farm, but these are the most relevant ones.
Most of the technical reports have been uploaded on to the OSMI website, with more coming soon. The next iteration of the design will be completed in the new year. OSMI will allow some time for the community to digest the information on the reports and the design changes, and then hold another series of open days in February/March. Due to the delaying finalising some of the reports, the timeline for submitting the planning permit has also been pushed back, it is now looking likely for May 2020 at the earliest.