Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Offshore wind Bill debated in Canberra to unlock offshore wind energy resource

Greater Gabbard Windfarm Courtesy SSE

"For a government that talks up 'technology not taxes' it is so disappointing that we've had to wait so long for this legislation" says Labor MP Kate Thwaites, who says the ALP supports the #OffshoreWindBill but the policy needs more work to deliver for jobs and communities. 

Australia's first #OffshoreWindBill creates a licensing and regulatory regime. It is a key first step for unlocking an avalanche of offshore wind farm proposals. 

The Bill also clears the path for renewable export projects such as the massive Sub Cable project in the NT, which is looking at up to 20GW of solar, and more than 40GWh of battery storage, with most of it to be exported to Singapore via sub-sea cable.

The Bill is called: Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 [Provisions] and Offshore Electricity Infrastructure (Regulatory Levies) Bill 2021 [Provisions].

The Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre (Blue Economy CRC)  found there is the potential for 2000 GW of offshore wind capacity for Australia. The Australian Energy Market Operator has identified several offshore wind zones that could accommodate up to 40GW of offshore wind.

"Eight years! After eight years, a piece of legislation that might actually do something good for renewables" says Greens MP @AdamBandt. 

Independant MP @zalisteggall speaks about several improvements to the bill including: Strategic environmental assessment to protect marine environments (in addition to EPBC); Incentives to deploy projects; Policy to secure local jobs and industry. Steggall says Newcastle could host a multi-billion dollar offshore wind sector and this is a much better opportunity than the Pep11 offshore gas project.

Labor MP @ALeighMP says offshore wind is a mature technology, and Britain and many other countries have taken up the opportunity. By 2026, the UK's offshore wind sector will employ ~70,000 people. The bill is welcome, but inadequate and arriving too late. 

"Offshore wind is *not* one of the technologies prioritised under the Coalition's Technology Investment Roadmap, another missed opportunity" says Labor MP @AnikaWells.

Speaking in favour of the bill, Liberal Party MP @DaveSharma  says "Australia has the opportunity to be global offshore wind superpower...the resource is comparable to the North Sea."

The Star of the South 2.2GW offshore wind farm project to be built in Bass Strait off the Gippsland Coast is waiting for this legislation. This one windfarm  has the potential to provide nearly 20 per cent of Victoria's electricity needs.

Similarly, offshore wind farm projects could rapidly be developed off Newcastle and the Illawarra coast providing significant renewables power at a high capacity into the electricity grid for Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong.

Oceanex Energy P/L is currently developing up to 10,000MW [10 GW] of projects in Australia including off the coast of the Hunter Valley (Newcastle), Illawarra (Wollongong/Port Kembla), Ulladulla, Eden and Bunbury. All projects are in the feasibility phase, with all pre-feasibility activities completed satisfactorily. Oceanex's five projects are each planned to be approximately 2 GW capacity. 

Oceanex intends to expedite its Hunter Valley and Illawarra wind farm projects upon passage of the bills and the granting of the relevant licences. 

There are estimated to be nearly 20GW of offshore wind project proposals – most at early stage of development. 

Alinta also revealed recently it was looking at an offshore wind project of more than 1GW in scale.

A cross-party Senate subcommittee endorsed the Offshore wind bill.

In a Climate Council Statement from September, Climate Council spokesperson and energy expert, Dr Madeline Taylor said: “This is a very welcome, and long-awaited first step. There is enough wind potential, just off our shores, to power Australia’s electricity grid several times over. The proposed Star of the South project off the coast of Victoria has the potential to supply 20 percent of the state’s energy needs,” said 

“Australia’s wind capacity has been likened to the North Sea – an area that’s leading the world in offshore wind generation. Investing in and growing this industry is a no-brainer for Australia, but it needs to be done right,” she said.  

“For the first time ever, AEMO’s latest Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) recently modelled Australia’s hydrogen superpower potential, and now it is time we did the same and modelled our potential as an Offshore Energy Superpower,” said Dr Taylor. 

Climate Council spokeswoman and economist Nicki Hutley added: “Renewable energy is Australia’s key to prosperity, with its ability to create jobs, lower electricity prices and support new industries such as renewable hydrogen and zero carbon manufacturing.” 

“Our government should have been focusing on expanding wind and solar projects, instead of wasting time and taxpayer money on expensive and polluting coal, oil and gas projects which will only worsen climate change,” said Ms Hutley. 

Liberal MPs block Debate on Climate Bill

In an earlier debate today Liberal Party MPs Trent Zimmerman, Dave Sharma, Jason Falinski, Katie Allen, Josh Frydenberg, Tim Wilson, among others,  blocked debate on Independant MP Zali Steggall's science-led climate bill for net-zero, reports Simon Holmes à Court on twitter, "there's no difference between this mob and Barnaby Joyce" he said.

Renewables forecast to reach 69 percent of the NEM grid by 2030

Australia’s main electricity grid is predicted to surpass 50 per cent renewables by 2025, and will surge to 69 per cent renewables by 2030, updated projections published by the Morrison government say.

The forecast is produced by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, as part of an update to Australia’s emissions projections, show wind and solar emerging as Australia’s dominant sources of electricity within the next few years, according to Michael Marzengarb writing in RenewEconomy.


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