Call for fed target to join race to build offshore wind

Entering the global race for offshore wind requires the federal government to set targets for energy generation or developers will not bother with Australia.

The warning was issued by Flotation Energy, developer of the 1.5 gigawatt Seadragon project, at an industry conference in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Head of operations Carolyn Sanders said the industry faced a global supply chain crunch and massive competition for resources.

She said Australia was battling the US Inflation Reduction Act that was bankrolling rapid clean energy development and the British government’s target to increase offshore wind capacity to 50GW by 2030.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen told CNBC during a tour of North Asia that Australia was getting on with it at a rapid pace.

“We are one of the most exciting offshore wind markets in the world,” he said.

But to compete, Australia needs clear and specific offshore wind targets and a federal plan to build the local supply chain, Ms Sanders told the Australian Wind Energy Conference.

“Equipment manufacturers and vessel owners are very focused on Northern Hemisphere markets and some are still evaluating whether they’ll even bother entering the Australian market,” she said.

The Seadragon project, off the coast of Gippsland, aims to be one of Australia’s first offshore wind farms.

But large scale offshore wind projects typically take up to 10 years to construct, putting the squeeze on Victoria’s plan to have least 2GW of offshore wind online by 2032.

World-class winds off Victoria’s coast could support 13 GW of capacity by 2050 – five times the state’s current renewable energy generation.

The state government last year allocated $40 million for feasibility studies and pre-construction development for three major offshore wind proposals: Star of the South, Macquarie Group and Flotation Energy.

Together, the three projects could power about 3.6 million homes and bring more than $18 billion in new investment to the state.

An area in the Pacific Ocean off the Hunter region in NSW has also been designated by the federal government for future offshore wind farms.

The Hunter zone has the potential to generate up to 5GW of renewable wind energy – enough to power 4.2 million homes – as the state turns off coal-fired electricity generation.

Other development areas in the running are off the Illawarra coast in NSW, in the Southern Ocean off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Strait region off northern Tasmania and the Indian Ocean region near Perth and Bunbury in Western Australia.

 

Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)

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