Energy projects expert James Morgan-Payler of Pinsent Masons said: “The drive to establish an offshore wind industry should be a key element in achieving the government’s net zero emissions target by 2050 and ensuring that 82 % of Australia’s electricity is generated by renewable energy. by 2030. It also provides a huge large-scale investment opportunity in Australia for renewable energy developers and other stakeholders.”
The government has launched a consultation exercise on the proposal to declare the Gippsland coast as suitable for the development of offshore renewable energy projects and invites all interested parties to react. Developers in particular are encouraged to send proposals on potential offshore wind projects demonstrating to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), the offshore infrastructure regulator, how their project will share the area with existing users. The consultation period runs until October 7, 2022.
Once the consultation period is over, the government will review the submissions and the potential impacts offshore renewable energy projects may have on other uses of the area. These submissions will form the basis of the Department of Climate Change and Energy’s decision as to the suitability of the area for the development of offshore renewable energy projects and whether the declaration will be made. Once the declaration is made, the Minister will grant feasibility licenses to the promoters.
Feasibility licenses will give selected developers up to seven years to study and plan their project. As part of this process, they will need to consider a range of factors, including the environment, Indigenous land interests, and the potential impact on commercial and recreational fishing in the area, among others. Considerable collaboration from all levels of government, local communities, indigenous groups and other relevant stakeholders with vested interests will also be required for future projects to be successful.
Morgan-Payler said, “The need for such extensive collaboration represents a significant hurdle for the industry, along with high development costs and the lack of an established supply chain. However, Australia benefits from the involvement of experienced European consultants and contractors, allowing them to develop their skills more quickly through the transfer of technology and people. Europe has seen a significant drop in the costs of energy produced by offshore wind projects thanks to technological development, economies of scale and competitive bidding mechanisms, and these benefits are likely to occur. in Australia as the industry develops”.
“Australia also represents a technological challenge, with Australia’s best offshore wind resources occurring in deeper waters, which means we will have to use floating turbines which sit on surface platforms attached by a cable. at the seabed. This technology remains in the early development phase. As this technology matures and becomes cheaper, it will open up more areas for offshore project development in Australia,” he said.
He added: “Despite the above, with greater clarity in the legislative and licensing framework, and growing commitment from state, territory and federal governments, the offshore wind industry appears poised for growth in the coming months and it is essential for interested developers to start developing their proposals.
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