Edinburgh-based Flotation Energy has been investigating the feasibility of a giant offshore wind farm south of Rottnest Island, approximately 20km from the coast near Perth in Western Australia.
The 500MW project would comprise up to 50 wind turbines over an area of roughly 10sq km. The turbines would be fixed to the seafloor in water depths of between 30 and 45 metres.
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Flotation Energy operations director Tim Sawyer told WAtoday the project was at a very early stage, and he did not expect it to be operational for five to 10 years.
“We’re going out to consultation, we’re doing the relevant studies to understand the opportunity and how it might work in Western Australia,” he said.
Sawyer said generating power near Perth overcame the need to arrange a distant connection to Western Power’s transmission grid that covers WA from Geraldton to Albany and inland to Kalgoorlie.
Perth also offered “one of the largest seabreeze systems in the world” with a far more consistent supply of power than solar energy.
“The key is to understand that resource’s variability, and how that impacts the grid and supply and demand,” Sawyer said.
“If you look at Perth, we’ve got an oil and gas industry, and decades worth of expertise, that we can draw on.
“We can also then look at the supply chain in Perth for fabrication, assembly, and construction offshore.
“So when you weigh up the grid, the wind, supply chain and environmental aspects, we think that off Perth is a good spot.”
Before Flotation Energy can commit to the project, it would undertake field surveys to better understand the seabed, waves and wind off Perth’s coast. The company would also consult fishing, shipping and environmental groups.
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“If you can’t get social licence, your project is not going ahead,” Sawyer said.
“It’s not in our interest to chase something that’s simply not going to happen.”
Flotation Energy is the fourth developer of offshore wind farms to go public with plans to connect to the power grid that covers the south-west corner of WA.