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Australia Declares Fourth Offshore Wind Zone as It Pushes Renewable Energy

Australia offshore wind
Australia designated its fourth offshore wind zone joining the Bass Strait which was the first wind zone declared in 2022 (Star of the South Project)

Published Jun 17, 2024 6:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The Australian government continues to push forward with its efforts to jumpstart the offshore wind energy sector. They declared the fourth wind zone after a review process and this comes as the government of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese launched an aggressive renewable energy program for the country.

Australia has a large number of coal-fired energy plants which the prior government and now the Albanese government are working to phase out. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen points out that the prior government scheduled closure dates for 24 coal-fired plants which provide 26.7 GW of power. By 2035, the country looks to shut down 90 percent of its coal-fired power stations.

The fourth declared wind zone is in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of New South Wales in the Illawarra zone. Based on the consultation program, the government shifted the zone a further six miles offshore so that it will not be closer than 12.5 miles. Further, steps were taken in the design to ensure safe management of the shipping lane to Port Kembla.

“Declaring this offshore wind zone brings the Illawarra a step closer to becoming a major provider of the building blocks of the net zero transformation – green power, green hydrogen, and green steel – along with thousands of new jobs,” said Bowen.

The new zone is nearly 400 square miles with the potential to generate an estimated 2.9 GW of power. This would be equivalent to the needs of 1.8 million homes.

 

Australia's fourth designated offshore wind energy zone

 

The government is accepting applications for feasible licensees for offshore wind projects through August 15 for the new zone. They point out that this will permit companies to begin the exploration process but that construction can only begin after the feasibility stage is completed and developers have gained subsequent environmental and management plan approvals.

The Illawarra joins the first declared zone in the Bass Strait off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria which was set out in late 2022. Last year, the government declared the second zone off the Hunter region in New South Wales and a third in the Southern Ocean off the western portions of Victoria. The Illawarra along with an additional area in the Bass Strait off the coast of northern Tasmania were also being reviewed. The sixth and final zone was announced for an area off the Bunbury region in Western Australia, which would also be the first in the Indian Ocean.

The efforts to advance offshore wind energy come as the government in May also mapped out a plan to request tenders at six-month intervals as part of an effort to develop a total of 32 GW of additional renewable energy capacity by 2030. Expected to run till 2027, the tenders target power for New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania. The first tender is accepting applications through June 19 and project bids are due by July 1, 2024.