(i.e. Why hasn’t the Fremantle Wind Farm happened yet?) Describing the current status of the project, what we have and what we need, the timeline, and the barrier presented by our lack of commercial access to land.
What we have
Fremantle Wind Farm has a long history and already had planning approvals both from the City of Fremantle and the State Government (WA Planning Commission). The approvals expired because the proponents couldn’t agree on commercial terms with the Fremantle Port Authority to buy the electricity generated from the wind farm.
Several years ago the original proponents, a consortium between Energy Visions and Pacific Hydro, invested over $500’000 into project development including the planning application, grid connection studies, environmental studies, migratory bird impact studies, geotechnical drilling, almost 10-years of wind monitoring on-site and independent wind resource assessments.
Fortunately, the current team negotiated with the original project proponents to acquire this valuable intellectual property, enabling a speedy resurrection of the Fremantle Wind Farm.
How the government views our project
Since 2012, our new project team had conversations with all relevant WA Ministers and Departments, including the Premier, on the possibility of land rights (e.g. licence) to put modern wind turbines at the industrial Fremantle Port, at North Mole and Rous Head Harbour.
As a response, we found the project living politically in the category of “nice to have” instead of “need to have” without finding proactive leadership within State Government to champion the Fremantle Wind Farm.
How the Fremantle Port Authority views our project
When queried, the FPA along with uninformed politicians will claim a wind farm is unfeasible, and repeatedly make reference to a consultant’s report, from 2011, commissioned to scope a port-owned wind farm. Your FCWF team went to substantial effort to obtain this report through the Freedom of Information Act, a year-long process which concluded with a scathing 18-page letter from the Information Commissioner in Canberra against the behaviour of the FPA (for withholding public information).
The un-redacted report reveals the public claims of unfeasibility by the FPA are fabricated. The actual report never concludes a wind farm is infeasible:
• Commercially, the report states the project will work at an electricity price of around $110/MWh (a very competitive electricity price). But regardless, the Port does not bear the commercial risk; the FCWF does.
• Technically, the report is inconclusive, advising further actions. But regardless, the Port does not bear the technical risk; the FCWF does.
• Environmentally, the report states that with a proper pre-feasibility study, all impacts can be managed.
• Community-related, the report only advises that the proponents must be engage the community early and often. And the FCWF team has been doing just that, with an overwhelmingly positive response.
What we need to have
Land access is the barrier to this project going ahead. Despite our positive past history and recent lobbying, the Fremantle Port Authority have decided not to allow us access to the land although the reasons for that decision have not been transparently communicated. Without land there isn’t a project to be built.
We are building community support on many levels, engaging community groups, unions, NGOs, politicians, and independent residents, nearly all of whom support our project. It is vital that the community surrounding the Fremantle Wind Farm are engaged at all stages of the project, and early demonstrations of support will be the key to its success.