The Australian government has introduced legislation that will pave the way for establishing offshore wind farms in a country, which is known to have massive offshore renewable energy potential.
This awaited legislation will set up a framework for building, running, maintaining, and decommissioning offshore electricity projects including wind generation and transmission cables, with environmental and financial safeguards.
“An offshore electricity industry in Australia will further strengthen our economy, create jobs and opportunities for Australians and enhance the delivery of affordable and reliable power,” said Energy Minister, Angus Taylor in a statement.
If the legislation passes, as expected, projects that could progress include the Star of the South wind project off the coast of Victoria, the Marinus Link transmission line from Tasmania to Victoria, and Sun Cable, which plans to deliver solar power from the Northern Territory to Singapore.
There are more than 10 proposed offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of more than 25 gigawatts (GW), a recent government research report said, adding that with a coastline of almost 60,000 km (37,283 miles) with very high wind resources, it makes sense to consider developing an offshore wind industry.
Moreover, these earmarked offshore wind project proposals around the country, worth billions of dollars of investment and offering thousands of jobs in regional areas such as Newcastle and the Illawarra that are most vulnerable to job losses in the coal mining and baseload power sectors because of the transition to low-carbon energy.
Today, Australia’s onshore wind farms have a combined capacity of 7.4 GW supplying energy to nearly 10 percent of Australia’s power in 2020, with a further 21 onshore wind farms with a total capacity of 4 GW due to start construction. The legislation which was tabled recently has got widespread support from the opposition Labor Party, unions and green groups, in stark contrast to most of the government’s other energy proposals, which are seen as supporting gas and coal to the detriment of renewable energy.