Australia’s federal government is moving quickly to develop the country’s offshore wind resources after having lagged behind other parts of the world. The government is launching a public comment period for its next designated region near Newcastle on the east coast after having designated the first area near Victoria in the south. Australia has only recently passed the enabling legislation that provided the framework for the industry.
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“Despite having some of the best wind resources in the world, Australia doesn’t currently have any offshore wind generation,” the Ministry for Climate Change and Energy noted in announcing the process for soliciting comments from the public in New South Wales. Minister Chris Bowen highlighted the country’s plan to get the national energy grid to 82 percent renewable energy in just seven years by 2030. Australia has set a goal of reducing emissions by just over 40 percent in the same time period by 2030.
The government said it is working to unlock the renewable energy industry citing the jobs and economic contributions that they expect as the industry moves forward. They are forecasting that the new industry could create 3,000 to 8,000 jobs in Australia every year.
The announcement on February 23 centered on an industrial region along the central, eastern coast in New South Wales known as the Hunter. The minister pointed out that the area is already known for its strong industrial base, with mining, manufacturing, and agriculture. The area is home to the nation’s largest smelter.
Outline of the Hunter area which has been prioritized for offshore wind development
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Calling for community involvement Bowen said the new priority zone has the capacity to create up to 8 GW of power which he estimated would power more than six million homes. The region has the potential to be the location for hundreds of wind turbines.
The creation of new power sources is said to be especially important in the Hunter. Currently, the region depends on multiple coal-fired power stations. Bowen highlighted that they are however all scheduled to shut down in future years.
A total of seven community consultation sessions were announced. They will run between March 6 and 9. The minister said he was looking forward to receiving input about the best way offshore electricity can be harnessed in the region.
The Hunter becomes the next of six priority regions around Australia designated by the government due to the existence of “world-class offshore wind potential.” The Gippsland region in the south near Melbourne was the first region prioritized by the government. Multiple projects are in the advanced planning stage for the area.
The government previously announced a further four regions earmarked for offshore wind zones. These include the Pacific Ocean region off the Illawarra in NSW, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury.