Australia Designates First Zone and Project for Offshore Wind Farms
Australia is accelerating its efforts at launching offshore wind development designating its first area and awarding the first project major project status to be the pioneer in the development of the industry. The move comes 13 months after Australia passed its first enabling legislation and framework to launch offshore wind energy projects.
The Commonwealth Government working with the government of the State of Victoria made the formal announcement confirming what was expected that the first region would be the southeast of Australia. They formally declare the Bass Strait off Gippsland as Australia’s first offshore wind zone. It is in a region running between Melbourne and Tasmania. At the same time, they announced that the project named Star of Australia was receiving “Major Project Status” from the government meaning it can receive “tailored regulatory facilitation services,” to reduce delays and obstacles as the pilot project for the industry.
"Australia has huge potential in offshore wind and today the Albanese government is giving this industry a green light,” said the Honorable Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy. “This formal declaration and the Major Project Status for Star of the South will help us catch up.” Speaking about the importance of the industry the minister said, “it will support new jobs and economic development in the regions that have always powered Australia, and will power Australia into the future.”
The declared area in Gippsland, Victoria, covers about 5,800 square miles offshore and runs from Lakes Entrance in the east to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west. The government officials noted that a significant consultation process was conducted to define the specific area. They projected that the windy Bass Strait off Gippsland, combined with the strong grid across Gippsland and the La Trobe Valley, means this area has the potential to support more than 10GW of year-round wind energy generation.
The Australian Parliament approved a series of laws to support the offshore electricity infrastructure in November 2021. The expectation is that state-level funding will be provided to support feasibility studies and pre-construction development for projects proposed for Australia’s southern coast.
Star of the South is considered to be Australia’s most advanced offshore wind project although other developers have also been pursuing early offshore projects. The Star of South project is majority owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners together with Cbus Super and Australian founders. The proposal calls for up to 2.2 GW of power with the installation of up to 200 turbines ranging from four to 15 miles offshore. Star of South reports construction could start around the middle of this decade with the first power around the end of the decade.
Victoria had outlined goals aiming to hit 2 GW of offshore generation by 2032, 4 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2035, and 9 GW by 2040. Government officials said that Victoria has some of the world’s best offshore wind resources, with coast lines having the full potential to support 13 GW of capacity by 2050.
In making today’s announcement the government said that it will soon begin accepting feasibility license applications for offshore wind projects in the Gippsland area. As a further step to advance the development of the industry they reported that other regions are being considered for future offshore wind energy projects. These include the Pacific Ocean regions off the Hunter and Illawarra in NSW, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Straight region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury in WA.