Federal government declares Australia’s first six offshore wind energy zones
5th August 2022
By Bec Symons, ABC Gippsland
The federal government has declared Australia’s first offshore wind zone, giving developers the green light to ramp up planning and consultation for wind farm projects.
- The federal Energy Minister has declared the Gippsland coast to be Australia’s first offshore wind zone
- Offshore wind projects aim to fill the future void left by coal-fired power station closures in the Latrobe Valley
- A 60-day consultation period with community members will now commence
Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced waters off the Gippsland coast, in Victoria’s south-east, would be the first offshore wind zone.
Other areas will follow off the coast of the Hunter Valley and Illawarra in New South Wales, Portland in Victoria, Northern Tasmania, Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia.
Developers last week told the ABC projects were being held up by the federal government dragging its feet on the impending declaration, which allows them to consult and then apply for permits.
Mr Bowen said other countries had been successfully producing energy from wind farms in the ocean for years, and it was Australia’s time to catch up.
“We have some of the best wind resources in the world,” Mr Bowen said.
“Just one rotation of one offshore wind turbine provides as much energy as an average rooftop solar installation generates in one day.”
Climate energy market analyst Tim Buckley said the declaration was a step forward, but all levels of government would need to work together.
“Energy Minister Chris Bowen is right to open offshore wind for public consultation,” Mr Buckley said.
“Offshore wind development is going to need a high degree of policy support and forward planning because of the complex supply chains that would have to be developed in Australia and higher costs of construction.
“We need to weigh up the additional costs related to offshore wind construction and see where it makes the most economic sense.
“We need to value the balancing or base-load nature of the generation, to support the sometimes intermittent nature of onshore wind and solar.”
Gippsland moving from coal to wind
Mr Bowen said the Star of the South proposal off the Victorian coast in Bass Strait would generate enough electricity to cater for 20 per cent of Victoria’s energy needs.
Star of the South is Danish-owned and was the first proposed offshore wind farm, put forward four years ago.
The company plans to build up to 200 wind turbines, with the closest located 7 kilometres from the coastline.
Star of the South chief executive Erin Coldham says the company hopes to begin power generation before the expected closure of Yallourn Power Station in 2028.
“There’s a proud history here of power generation for more than 100 years so there’s really great access to the grid which supplies to the rest of the east coast, the sea depths are perfect and there’s some really unique wind conditions,” Ms Coldham said.
The company aims to begin construction in 2025 and says the project would create 2,000 construction jobs and 200 ongoing operational roles.
Consultation starts now
Mr Bowen’s announcement signals the start of a 60-day consultation period with communities and users of waters in the nominated areas.
The federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water will facilitate the consultation process.
Transmission lines, which are expected to be above ground, will run from the wind zone to the energy grid in the Latrobe Valley, which currently sends power generated by the Yallourn and Loy Yang Power Stations.
“It’s important that issues surrounding transmission lines through private property to link large scale renewable projects to the national grid are handled sensitively and transparently,” federal Nationals member for Gippsland Darren Chester said.