Government could save Alcoa smelter by transforming it into a reverse battery


The Victorian Greens have renewed their calls on the state government to save the Portland smelter from closure, following reports today that an AGL rescue plan has fallen through.

The Greens say that in order to save the smelter and its 1,500 workers, the government should funnel $50 million into upgrading the facility so that it can be turned into a ‘reverse battery’ powered by renewable energy.

The smelter is currently powered by the dirtiest coal electricity in the world from Victoria’s ageing coal power stations, however the Greens say that it could be transformed to save it from being shut down by Alcoa.

Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell, said this would help over summer by freeing up energy and driving down the price of electricity for everyone.

As part of this plan, The Greens would want to see the government invest in five to ten new renewable energy projects to supply the smelter’s energy needs, as a well as a $50 million dollar upgrade so that it could significantly reduce its energy on days of high energy demand.

This would prevent energy peaks and blackouts, and lessen the state's reliance on coal and peaking gas. The upgrade could be provided by the government as a grant or low interest loan.

Quotes attributable to Acting Leader of the Victorian Greens, Ellen Sandell MP:

"Victorian taxpayers currently subsidise Alcoa’s energy use to the tune of $50 million a year. But what if, instead, the Victorian Government helped turn the Portland smelter into a giant battery and run on clean energy? Smelters around the world do it and we could too. 

"Let’s revive manufacturing in Victoria but this time make it clean and renewable, like other countries are doing.

"With the AGL energy deal falling through, the smelter and its 1,500 workers are in need of a lifeline, and turning the smelter into a giant battery would be a win for workers, Portland and our climate."