1855
Views

Australia Releases Plan for Potentially First Indian Ocean Wind Farm

Australia offshore wind farm
Government rendering to show the wind turbines would not be visible from Bunbury (DCCEEW)

Published Feb 21, 2024 5:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

As Australia seeks to accelerate its plans for offshore wind energy development, the government is seeking public input after releasing a plan for the first wind farm for the western shore of the country. Previously, areas have been designated off the east and southern coasts and now for the first time, the government is detailing the plans for a wind farm in the Indian Ocean. 

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water released a draft proposal yesterday, February 20 for the proposed area citing the beneficial nature of wind energy and its advantages over other forms of energy generation. They highlighted that just one turn of one offshore wind turbine provides as much energy as an average rooftop solar installation generates in a whole day. They noted that a wind turbine makes around 15 turns per minute.

The proposal mapped out an area off the Bunbury region in Western Australia south of Perth and Fremantle. It encompasses nearly 7,700 square kilometers (nearly 3,000 square miles) with the nearest point at least 12.5 miles from the closest point off Cape Naturaliste and the city of Bunbury. It would be more than 22 miles off the coast from Busselton. Initial calculations show it could enable up to 20 GW of offshore wind energy.

 

Map outlining the proposed area which would be the first in the Indian Ocean (DCCEEW)

 

They noted that Western Australia is the sixth region to be considered as potentially suitable for future large-scale offshore wind projects in Australia. They said the area is an “ideal location for offshore electricity generation” because of the high-speed winds in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, they also noted the area's proximity to large energy users and the relatively shallow depth in the area. The Indian Ocean area they said would be located close to the resources and heavy industry heartland of Australia.

Australia declared its first two suitable areas as being off Victoria’s Gippsland coast and the New South Wales Hunter region. The proposals in the Southern Ocean Region off Victoria and South Australia, and the NSW Illawarra region have each completed their initial community consultation phase. The consultation period has closed for the proposal in the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania.

Yesterday’s announcement launches the consultation period for the proposed Western Australia area. The first meetings are scheduled for mid-March and will run through May 2024. They said the sessions would provide opportunities to learn about the plans and ask questions as well as express views. Like all the wind areas they seek to ensure the work with other ocean users.

Australia is relatively new to the wind sector having only resolved a little over a year ago its regulatory framework and started the process to declare potential areas. Both domestic and international companies have shown a strong interest as the government works to move forward in the process. The target is to have the first wind farm operational before the end of 2025.