An Australian offshore wind industry is one step closer with the federal government today declaring an area in the Bass Strait off Victoria’s Gippsland coast as the first area suitable for developing offshore wind energy projects.
The declaration confirms the area where developers will soon be able to apply for the first licences for offshore wind in Australia. Further consultations will take place on any proposed developments, once feasibility licences are issued.
The declared area encompasses approximately 15,000 square kilometres, stretching from offshore of Lakes Entrance in the east to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west.
The future farms would be hooked into energy grids on the mainland in Gippsland and Latrobe Valley, with the potential to provide 10 GW per year of wind power.
The Star of the South project, being developed by a Victorian-based team with investment from Danish firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, looks likely to be the first offshore wind farm in the area after it was awarded Major Project Status.
Star of the South Chief Executive Officer Charles Rattray welcomed the declaration of the zone, saying it means greater certainty for the industry and local supply chains.
“Offshore wind will play a critical role in Australia’s energy system going forward,” he said. “It is pleasing to receive clarity from government on the boundaries for offshore wind projects, allowing us to take the next steps and continue investing in the region.”
Rattray said if the Star of the South project is approved and proceeds to construction, works could start around the middle of this decade with first power around the end of the decade.
Federal Industry Minister Ed Husic said the offshore wind projects could support more than 3,000 jobs over the next 15 years in development and construction phases, with an additional 3,000 ongoing operation jobs.
“The Star of the South project alone will support more than 2,280 jobs during construction and a further 300 direct jobs during operations,” he said.
“We want to see more large-scale projects built in coming years. This will help integrate Australian manufacturing with renewable energy infrastructure, delivering more jobs in Australian companies.”
The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water said feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Gippsland area will open soon. The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar will lead assessment of all applications and make recommendations to the Minister.
Other regions in Australia being considered for future offshore wind energy projects are the Pacific Ocean regions off the Hunter and Illawarra in New South Wales, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Straight region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury in Western Australia.