The booming offshore wind industry is awaiting a statement from the federal government to begin key on-water work.
- The renewable energy industry is waiting for the federal government to designate Gippsland as an offshore wind development area
- Five wind farm projects plan to build wind turbines off Gippsland
- CSIRO says prices for building offshore wind farms have come down significantly, making it a viable option
Five offshore wind farms are planned off the Gippsland coast, hoping to tap into the existing transmission infrastructure in the Latrobe Valley.
Under new legislation governing offshore wind farms passed by Parliament last year, operators are only allowed to undertake particular activities in areas designated for offshore wind development.
The most advanced project, Star of the South, plans to erect up to 200 turbines in the windy waters of Gippsland.
Acting chief executive Erin Coldham said the statement would end the uncertainty the industry is facing.
“We look forward to the start of the reporting process. The end result would provide certainty for offshore wind projects in the region, like ours, that are ready and willing to move forward,” she said.
“In the meantime, we are continuing our ongoing environmental assessments, onshore studies and community consultations to move things forward.”
BlueFloat Energy company country manager Nick Sankey echoed that sentiment.
“We are advancing our project development as much as we can, but until we have a feasibility license we are unable to deploy certain monitoring equipment and undertake many studies in our area. site that we would like to do,” he said. said.
Wellington Shire chief development officer Brent McAlister previously told the ABC there was significant impetus to make the declaration soon.
“It’s critical because there is competition around the world for investment dollars and capital in offshore wind,” he said.
“But the money will go to countries that have regulatory and licensing regimes in place, so attracting investment is crucial.”
Meanwhile, the Victorian government has set a target of 4 gigawatts (GW) of generation by 2035 and 9 GW by 2040.
To that end, the state government funded four companies for the scoping work: $19.5 million for Star of the South, $16.1 million for Corio, and $2.3 million for Flotation Energy. .
ABC Gippsland has filed five requests to discuss offshore wind with Federal Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen since his re-election.
Renewables remain the cheapest option
A recent report by Australia’s leading scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), reaffirmed that renewables remain the cheapest new-build option for energy.
CSIRO chief energy economist Paul Graham said offshore energy costs had fallen.
“We have seen significant cost reductions in offshore wind, mainly due to overseas developments, where there is a lot more offshore wind being developed – so offshore wind could play a role. role in Australia,” he said.
He said Gippsland’s transmission infrastructure would need updating and expanding.
“The existing transmission system was really designed to connect our fossil resources,” he said.
“We need to build about 10,000 kilometers of new transmission lines over the next decade.”