Australia: OEPL Seeks Permit to Explore Site for Massive OWF

Offshore Energy Pty Ltd (OEPL) has requested a permit from the Australian Government to conduct a feasibility study for a proposed offshore wind farm off the coast of south-eastern Victoria, which would have up to 250 turbines and a capacity of at least 2GW.

Along with announcing the offshore wind farm proposal in June 2017, Victorian Government stated that OEPL had been working with the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to progress the proposal to a formal feasibility assessment of the project, called Star of the South

Now, OEPL is seeking a licence to conduct the feasibility study activities for a period of seven years at the 574 km2 area located in waters near Gippsland. This includes the assessment of wind resources, seabed conditions, as well as environmental conditions, including impacts on sea life.

The Department of the Environment and Energy, which is coordinating consideration of the request on behalf of the Australian government, pointed out that the request is only related to exploration activities, and does not include permission to construct the project.

If the licence is granted, it would not commit the Commonwealth to permitting the construction of a wind farm in the area. The details of any exploration licence such as the size and location of the area, licence period, specific conditions and obligations, would be subject to further consideration and negotiation, the Energy Department stated.

Furthermore, the licence would not create an exclusion zone over the exploration area, nor would it override the existing common law and statutory rights of third parties. However, it would involve the Commonwealth agreeing not to license any other party to conduct wind farm exploration activities in the same area.

The Energy Department said it is consulting with relevant Commonwealth and State agencies on the proposal, to assist with consideration of impacts for navigation, environmental and fisheries impacts, defence and communications requirements, petroleum and gas, maritime safety and native title interests.

The developer hopes to install 12+MW turbines

The Star of the South offshore wind project would be located between 10 and 25 kilometres off the Gippsland coastline.

The 2GW wind farm development will involve up to 250 turbines, based on current technology of 8MW turbines.

Nevertheless, OEPL expects that the capacity of the turbines at the time of the potential construction could be at least 12MW.

The wind farm would be connected via four 500MW high-voltage transmission cables directly to a connection point on the Victorian grid near the Latrobe Valley. Each cable cable route would consist of 95km of subsea and underground cables.

An estimated AUD 8 billion would be invested during the development and construction of the rroject, around half of which could comprise local content, according to the company.

OEPL said that, subject to the exploration permit approval, it hopes to determine the feasibility of the project in a shorter period than given by the seven-year licence.

A two-year wind resource measurement campaign may involve the installation of up to two meteorological masts and/or up to two floating LiDARs, as well as two land-based LiDAR systems.

A range of approvals and permits will be required to construct the project and will be based on the findings of a number of studies to be undertaken during the feasibility period, the developer stated.

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