Australia is on its way to becoming the next country to incorporate offshore wind energy as part of its renewable energy mix, following moves by Parliament to deliver new jobs as well as investment in wind farms and transmission projects.
The three bills, which passed the final stage in the Senate yesterday, establish the regulatory framework around electricity infrastructure projects in Commonwealth waters, and signals Australia’s commitment to develop its offshore energy industry .
This comes after years of advocacy by climate change bodies such as Australia’s Climate Council arguing that the nation could become a global, offshore wind superpower with there being enough wind potential to power the electricity grid “several times over”.
“If all the current proposed offshore wind farms were built, their combined energy capacity would be greater than all of Australia coal-fired power stations,” the Climate Council says.
“Many of the jobs and economic opportunities would be created in regional areas like the Hunter Valley, Illawarra, Gladstone, Port Kembla, Newcastle, and Latrobe Valley that already have the energy infrastructure and skilled workforce.”
Legislation to accelerate key projects
Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said that the Morrison Government’s offshore electricity infrastructure package enables the development of new energy projects while safeguarding the environment.
“This legislation will accelerate a number of key projects already under development – projects that include the Star of the South, Sun Cable, and the Marinus Link transmission line, which will connect the mainland to Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation project, strengthening reliability and helping to keep the lights on and energy prices low.”
“Combined, these three proposals, Marinus Link, Star of the South and Sun Cable, are estimated to be worth over $10 billion and will create over 10,000 direct and indirect job opportunities.”
Victoria’s offshore wind energy boost
Three major offshore wind projects, including Star of the South, Macquarie Group, and Flotation Energy – which have the potential to create up to 5,600 jobs, bring more than $18 billion in new investment to Victoria and power around 3.6 million homes all received funding.
“Wild winds off Victoria’s coastline − which among the best in Australia and the world − could see our state become an offshore wind powerhouse, driving economic development and helping us reach our target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” the statement said.
Funding will support feasibility studies and pre construction development, including environmental assessments, and adds to the $96m the companies have already invested into these projects.
Two of these projects – Star of the South and Flotation Energy are off the Gippsland coast where the region has been undergoing a major clean energy transition following the announced closure of the coal fired Yallourn Power Station in 2028.
If built to its full proposed scale, Star of the South will have up to 2.2GW of capacity – enough power to provide nearly 20 per cent of Victoria’s energy needs.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said: “This is the largest single offshore wind announcement in Australia’s history and places Victoria at the forefront of this pivotal new sector.”