Australia’s offshore wind industry hailed a major milestone as the nation’s government began consulting over its first designated development area off the state of Victoria and named other locations for future turbine arrays.
The Bass Strait off Gippsland will be first to be formally assessed under its new Offshore Electricity Infrastructure framework, said climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen.
The seas off Victoria are home to a clutch of planned pioneering Australian projects, including the 2.2GW Star of the South project led by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners that is set to be the nation’s first in the water.
Claiming that “we have some of the best offshore wind resources in the world”, Bowen signalled that five more areas will follow, including Hunter and Illawarra in New South Wales where developer Oceanex Energy is planning giga-scale floating projects. The Bass Strait off Tasmania, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, and the Indian Ocean off Perth in Western Australia are also in the frame.
Oceanex chief Andy Evans – previously Star of the South’s founding CEO – labelled the start of consultation off Gippsland as “a huge day for offshore wind in Australia”.
Star of the South acting CEO Erin Coldham said: “We know the wind conditions here are ideal, with many opportunities for investment in the region.
“A local offshore wind sector will deliver a clean energy boost, cut emissions, and create local jobs. It’s encouraging to see the Government pushing ahead with offshore wind in Gippsland and keeping the momentum going.”
The Labor government elected earlier this year has pledged to accelerate clean energy and climate action from what was often criticised as a slow pace adopted by the previous Coalition administration.
Tim Baxter, a senior researcher at Australian environmental group the Climate Council, said: “While Europe takes great advantage of its offshore wind resources, foot dragging by the previous federal government means Australia – with world class offshore wind resources – still has no industry at all.
“Taking advantage of offshore wind brings many advantages to the grid, further improving the reliability of our power supply. Australians can see the importance of this in the current energy crisis which has been exacerbated by the fleet of failing coal and gas generators.”