Friday, March 11, 2022

Victorian Government sets offshore wind targets to kickstart offshore wind industry to meet climate targets


On March 4, 2022 the Victorian Government set new offshore wind farm targets. Currently there are no offshore wind farms operating in the state.

The new offshore wind targets:

  • 2032 - target of 2 GW 
  • 2035 - target of 4 GW 
  • 2040 - target of 9 GW 
  • 2050 - potential capacity of 13 GW

Federal Minister for Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has been sitting on Federal legislation that has been needed to allow wind farm planning and construction to go ahead. This legislation was finally passed by the Federal Parliament in 2021.

The Star of the South project is a proposed offshore wind farm with up to 2.2 gigawatts of generating capacity, expecting to cover a 496 square kilometre area located seven to 25 kilometres off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria. Expected Construction Commencement for this project is 2025 and construction completion in 2028. This one project will exceed the first target, and probably do so with years to spare. The Victorian government has supported this project with $19.5 million for pre-construction development activities.

Two other projects have received starter funding from the Victorian Government: Macquarie Group will receive $16.1 million to facilitate initial development stages of a 1GW offshore wind farm (Great Southern Offshore Wind Farm) off the Bass Coast; Flotation Energy will receive $2.3 million for scoping studies and surveys for a 1.5GW offshore wind farm (Seadragon Offshore Wind Farm) off the coast of Gippsland.

Together, those three projects could generate 4.7 GW of new capacity, exceeding the 2035 target and meeting about 40 percent of Victoria's current electricity consumption.

Creating a stream of Renewables jobs

One of the positives of the rollout of offshore wind farms is it will create thousands of jobs both during development and construction, and in ogoing operations and maintenaince. Many of these jobs will be highly skilled  and well paid, providing employment in regional areas. It provides some employment transition opportunities to workers in coal mining and coal fired power stations, and in the offshore oil and gas sector. It is part of a just transition. 


An estimated total 6,100 jobs in the development and construction phase and in ongoing operational jobs are likely to be created by the offshore wind farms. Development and construction phases is likely to create 3,100 local jobs for 15 years. An additional 3,000 ongoing jobs are likely to be required for ongoing operations.

Victoria already has an established supply chain for onshore wind farms that has grown over the last 20 years. Offshore wind will provide further opportunity for growth and expansion by businesses in this existing supply chain. There is likely to be a need for people to be employed in  planning, design, engineering, construction, and operations and maintenance. Transferable skills from other sectors, such as engineering, system design, control systems, high-voltage electrical, logistics, and offshore work.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said: “Victoria’s offshore wind resources are officially open for business, but the real work starts now.”

“We know it will take years to plan and develop the first tranche of wind projects in Australia, due to their complexity, scale, regulatory and infrastructure requirements – and we’re ready to start that journey today.”

This is probably the most important renewables expansion announcement since Premier John Brumby announced building 5-10 concentrating solar thermal power stations in the north and west of Victoria during 2010 in the lead up to an election (which the ALP lost).

Victorian Government is planning a consultation process to ensure that Traditional Owners, local communities, and industry can contribute and engage in the establishment of offshore wind.

At this stage Victorian offshore wind is estimated to have a 13GW capacity.

The cost of offshore wind is falling compared to onshore wind and solar.

In the Levelised Cost of Energy in comparing offshore wind to onshore wind and solar, it is still more expensive. However offshore wind has a higher capacity factor for its operations than on shore wind or solar.

Response from Friends of the Earth, Environment Victoria and Trades Hall

Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze welcomed the news in a statement and said it would result in thousands of good, long-term jobs in regional areas, especially in Gippsland.

“Offshore wind is the missing piece of Australia’s energy puzzle and one of the biggest levers we have to cut pollution while boosting the economy and creating good local jobs. By harnessing strong, steady ocean winds, offshore wind towers can provide cheap and reliable power for our local manufacturing industry.

“The Andrews government’s announcement positions Victoria as a national leader in offshore wind – a critical sector for the state’s energy transition.” said Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson. “Establishing an offshore wind sector in Victoria will be critical for delivering the deep emissions cuts needed to avoid worsening climate impacts” .

The announcement is seen as a win for the Gippsland community, the climate movement and union movement which have been campaigning to kickstart a jobs-rich offshore wind sector, according to a Friends of the Earth statement.

“Gippslanders are proud of their history and expertise in powering Victoria. This offshore wind target provides certainty about the future of energy that communities have been calling for,” said Wendy Farmer, Friends of the Earth’s Gippsland campaigner.

With the Yallourn coal fired power station set to close by 2028 at the latest, communities like the Latrobe Valley need all governments to show leadership on renewable energy.

“Will we see the Federal Morrison government match Victoria’s ambition on offshore wind?” asked Wendy Farmer. “It’s time for Energy Minister Angus Taylor to get on with a Gippsland Offshore Wind Zone so these critical projects can get started.”

Luke Hilakari, Secretary Victorian Trades Hall Council made the following statement:

This is an announcement that all Victorians can be proud of. This will create thousands of new jobs and give birth to a huge new industry in Victoria.

Victoria will become the national home of offshore wind which could lead to the development of a green hydrogen export industry. This is both good news for Victorian jobs and the air we breathe.

After years of inaction and outright hostility to renewable energy from the Federal Government, we have to fight harder than ever for renewables. It has again taken leadership from the Andrews Government to create the jobs of the future.

In the face of inevitable transition, it is the job of unions to make sure that every worker in the energy industry is looked after. Generations of energy workers have helped build Victoria and it is important that they have a genuine ongoing seat at the table. This is the only way we can ensure that workers and their families have well-paid and secure jobs into the future.



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