Green Energy: Renewables sector and government find common ground on offshore energy bill
It’s not often that the current Federal Government and the green energy sector find themselves in happy agreement.
But that is the case with new legislation to open up an offshore electricity industry in Australia, tabled by Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor in Parliament yesterday.
It paves the way for the start of Australia’s offshore wind energy industry, which could eventually rival the North Sea offshore wind industry off the coast of the UK and northern Europe.
Taylor says the legislation, known as the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021, will help progress at least $10 billion of investment in three major projects, the Marinus Link interconnector between Tasmania and the mainland, the Sun Cable between Darwin and Asia and the Star of the South wind project.
“An offshore electricity industry in Australia will further strengthen our economy, create jobs and opportunities for Australians, and enhance the delivery of affordable and reliable power,” Taylor said.
“A new offshore industry, enabled by this Bill, represents an important new opportunity for Australia.
“Offshore generation and transmission can deliver significant benefits to all Australians through a more secure and reliable electricity system, and create thousands of new jobs and business opportunities in regional Australia.”
Located 7-25km off the Gippsland coast, Star of the South is a proposed 2.2GW megaproject that would power some 1.2 million Victorian homes by connecting via an underground cable into transmission infrastructure in the Latrobe Valley.
The company behind the development says it typically takes 6-10 years to develop and build an offshore wind farm, timing its development with the closure of ageing coal plants in the region.
Star of the South CEO Casper Forst Thorhauge welcomed the legislation.
“We will look at the Bill in detail to understand what it means for developing Star of the South off the coast of Gippsland,” he said.
“This legislation is a key step to realising Australia’s offshore wind potential and unlocking the associated economic benefits, including providing opportunities for the nation’s strong resources and maritime sectors.”
“We are excited to help create Australia’s offshore wind industry and continue Gippsland’s proud history of power generation into the future – supporting new local jobs and transitioning skills.”
The Climate Council, which this week chastised the Morrison Government for not going hard enough on its emissions reduction target, also cheered the move.
Based on assessments of wind resources across the country, they say as much as 2233GW of the stuff could be feasibly installed across the country, many times the power required in the grid.
This could all be achieved within 100km of current substations and excluding environmentally restricted and low wind areas.
Offshore wind could be an important resource as the grid shifts to a higher penetration of renewables, with the different wind patterns and strength off the coast meaning it could reinforce supply in the grid when onshore wind and solar energy resources are low.
Vanadium hopeful TNG, which owns the Mt Peake vanadium development in the Northern Territory, has ramped up its commitment to the new green hydrogen sector.
TNG has built on a heads of agreement signed in June with Malaysia’s AGV Energy to announce a formal project development agreement to work on green hydrogen projects in Australia.
The joint venture would look for opportunities to roll out the HySustain electrolysis technology developed by AGV in northern Australia, with the companies having previously looked at incorporating vanadium redox flow batteries into AGV’s proposed green hydrogen plants.
“The execution of this Project Development Agreement with AGV Energy marks another exciting step towards the delivery of our green energy strategy, with a focus on evaluating specific opportunities to implement AGV’s HySustain Technology within Australia,” TNG managing director Paul Burton said.
“We are impressed with AGV’s sustainable solution for decarbonisation, which we believe can be a positive contributor to assist industries within Australia with the transition to carbon efficient operations and mitigation of climate change risks.
“The momentum towards a hydrogen-based economy continues to grow in Australia, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to play a role in this exciting sector through our association with AGV Energy.”