Monday, February 26, 2024

Offshore wind power plan blows ministers into Gippsland

Federal and Victorian Government Ministers this week joined Wellington Shire Council officials, local community members and industry to formally declare the Bass Strait off Gippsland as Australia’s first offshore wind zone.

The Federal Government has also awarded Major Project Status to the Star of the South Offshore Windfarm Project off the Gippsland coast.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen said Gippsland’s declaration was a crucial step towards affordable, reliable and secure energy and new economic opportunities for Australia.

Estimates show offshore wind projects off Gippsland could support more than 3,000 jobs over the next 15 years during their development and construction phases, and an additional 3,000 ongoing operational jobs.

Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic said the start of a domestic offshore wind industry creates tremendous opportunity for local industry and job creation.

“The windy Bass Strait off Gippsland, and the strong grid across Gippsland and the La Trobe Valley, mean this area has the potential to support more than 10GW of year-round wind energy generation,” said Mr Husic.

“The declared area in Gippsland, Victoria, covers about 15,000 square kilometres offshore, and runs from Lakes Entrance in the east to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west. This area was developed after a significant consultation process beginning in August of this year, taking into account views expressed by community stakeholders, industry and experts.

“The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments are committed to working together over the coming year to consider the Gippsland coast west of Wilsons Prom, including further consultation with Traditional Owners and taking into account community feedback and information on environmental risks of developing offshore electricity infrastructure in the area.”

First in industry projects often pose complex regulatory considerations, and the Government awarding Major Project Status to the Star of the South means it can receive tailored regulatory facilitation services – to ensure they meet their obligations without unnecessary regulatory delays, he said.

Minister Bowen said, “Australia’s new offshore wind industry will start in Gippsland. It will support new jobs and economic development in the regions that have always powered Australia, and will power Australia into the future.”

“Australia has huge potential in offshore wind and today the Albanese government is giving this industry a green light. This formal declaration and the Major Project Status for Star of the South will help us catch up.”

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Gippsland area will open soon. The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar will lead assessment of all applications against criteria set out in the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Regulations 2022, and make recommendations to the Minister.

Other regions being considered for future offshore wind energy projects are 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.

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