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Licences go to nation’s first offshore wind projects

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has granted offshore wind licences for the Gippsland zone.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen has granted offshore wind licences for the Gippsland zone. Photo: AAP

Australia’s first offshore wind projects will begin after being granted feasibility licences to unlock the energy, climate and economic benefits of the power source.

Awarding licences for the nation-leading Gippsland zone off Victoria’s coast, Energy Minister Chris Bowen said offshore wind would be “energy rich and jobs rich” for six development zones around Australia.

“That’s why major Australian energy users – from Alcoa in Portland, to BlueScope in the Illawarra, to Tomago in the Hunter – say that offshore wind is vital to their energy future,” he told a conference in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The proposed Gippsland projects alone could generate more than 15,000 jobs during construction and another 7500 ongoing jobs, he said.

Eyeing at least two gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2032, 4GW by 2035 and 9GW by 2040, Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the zone would be key to the state’s renewable energy transition.

Those given the green light include Australia’s most advanced project Southerly Ten’s Star of the South and the developer’s Kut-Wut Brataualung off Wilsons Promontory, as well as High Sea Wind, Gippsland Skies, Blue Mackerel North, and Orsted’s Gippsland 01.

Southerly Ten chief executive Charles Rattray said the group’s two projects would power more than 2.4 million homes and inject $14 billion into the economy.

“These licences signal that Australia is open for business and open to the economic opportunities offshore wind can provide for our regional communities,” Rattray said.

“We’ve studied this area for five years under an exploration licence and know it’s in a location with strong winds, ideal sea depths and suitable seabed conditions,” he said.

Southerly Ten is powered by investment from Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, which has been progressing Star of the South since 2017 with Cbus Super and Australian founders.

As the world’s leaders in offshore wind line up to develop Australian waters, Bowen said six more developers were offered licences subject to further engagement with traditional owners.

These include Iberdrola’s Aurora Green, Gippsland Dawn, Navigator North Project, Orsted’s Gippsland 02, Kent Offshore Wind and the Great Eastern Offshore Wind Farm Project.

Together, the 12 projects would generate 25GW of electricity, or more than 10 times AGL’s Loy Yang A coal-fired power plant when operational.

The licences allow developers to do environmental assessments, geotechnical surveys and obtain approvals before a commercial licence for generating electricity can be considered, with the red tape usually requiring at least seven years to get to first wind.

Bowen also released further details in a capacity investment scheme that is bringing on 32GW of new reliable renewable power, and the offshore wind program.

Successful bidders have been shortlisted for the Victoria-South Australia tender to provide an additional 600MW of capacity by 2030.

A massive oversubscription of bids totalling 19,000MW of capacity submitted showed “exceptionally strong investment appetite plus industry confidence” in the scheme, he said.

– AAP

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