The government of the Australian state of Victoria has opens its coffers to boost a trio of offshore wind projects with a total plant capacity of 4.7GW, in what is claimed to be the largest single investment in the emerging sector in the country to-date.
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Victoria’s Labor government announced it has earmarked A$40m ($29m) to advance the Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners-backed 2.2GW Star of the South, Floatation Energy’s 1.5GW Seadragon and Macquarie’s as-yet-unnamed 1GW project off the south-east of the country.
The investment, awarded as part of the state’s Energy Innovation Fund, is expected to generate some A$18bn in investment and underpin state plans to reach 50% renewable energy production by 2030.
“Victoria is the clean energy capital of Australia – we’ve led the way on renewables, created 24,000 jobs with our VRET [Victorian Renewable Energy Target] alone, supported a thriving supply chain of businesses and attracted billions [of dollars] in investment,” said Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews.
State minister for energy, environment and climate change Lily D’Ambrosio added: “Offshore wind is the next step to create thousands of high skilled jobs, and we know we’re ready with a highly skilled workforce able to step into them.
“This is the largest single offshore wind announcement in Australia’s history and places Victoria at the forefront of this pivotal new sector.”
The Star of the South, located off the coast of Gippsland, will be given $19.5m to support pre-construction development activities for a giant project, which if full scaled-up would generate enough power to provide nearly 20% of Victoria’s energy supply.
Macquarie Group won $16.1m for “initial development” of a 1GW offshore wind farm in the Bass Straits, while Flotation Energy will receive $2.3m for scoping studies and surveys for a 1.5GW project off the coast of Gippsland.
The funding will aid in each company’s determination as to “the exact location of each project”, a statement from the state government said.
Tim Sawyer, Flotation Energy’s operations director, said: “This is a major step forward for our $6bn Seadragon project. Offshore wind is a mature and competitive technology with a bright future in Australia.
Floatation’s project development manager Carolyn Sanders noted that the company was “assessing the opportunity to re-use some of the assets that are no longer needed for oil & gas production for [Seadragon]”, which could be online as early as 2027/28.
Lachlan Creswell, head of Macquarie-owned Green Investment Group Australia, said: “While offshore wind is new technology in Australia, it is well-established internationally where it is a proven, clean and cost-competitive form of electricity generation.
“We believe that offshore wind has an important role to play in the mix of renewable energy sources that will support Australia’s transition to a lower-carbon economy. Australia, and Victoria in particular, is ideally placed to harness this form of clean and cost-effective energy given an abundance of wind and other natural attributes.”
In September, Australia’s national government tabled a long-awaited piece of legislation, the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill, that is deemed crucial to give the sector lift-off Down Under as it sets out legal and regulatory framework allowing developers to plan, build and operate wind farms, and transmit power to shore, in federal waters, where current legislation is geared only around the offshore oil & gas sector.