Australia Opens Consultation on Hunter Offshore Wind Zone

Australia has opened a consultation on a new offshore wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the Hunter, New South Wales.


The development area is situated within the recently declared Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone (REZ). The Hunter-Central Coast REZ has reportedly attracted a significant response with commercial interest in renewable generation and storage projects representing almost 40 GW and more than AUD 100 billion of potential investment, including seven offshore wind projects.

This proposed offshore wind area sits alongside the Hunter, which is an Australian manufacturing powerhouse and home to the nation’s largest smelter, the country’s Ministry of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, said.

This new renewable energy industry has the potential to create 3000-8000 jobs in Australia every year. Where international offshore wind farms have been established, the main pathways into the industry have been from the energy sector and existing offshore industries.

The Hunter is already known for its strong industrial base, with mining, manufacturing, and agriculture, proving this region already has the skill base for the new industry, the ministry said.

The consultation process is an opportunity for all community members, workers, residents, industry groups and chambers of commerce to provide feedback. Submissions will run from 23 February to 28 April.

Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said he’s looking forward to hearing from the community about the best way offshore electricity can be harnessed in the region and is encouraging locals to engage with community discussions and online submissions.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water will also facilitate community information sessions, which will be held throughout the region during the consultation period.

”The world’s climate emergency is regional Australia’s jobs opportunity, and the Hunter is uniquely placed to capitalise on this,” Minister Bowen said.

”An offshore wind zone in the Hunter presents significant opportunities to create new energy sector and manufacturing jobs, drive economic growth and reduce emissions. I’m encouraging residents from across the Hunter to have their say on the proposed area and what they would like to see from this offshore zone.”

Despite having some of the best wind resources in the world, Australia doesn’t currently have any offshore wind generation.

The IEA classifies offshore wind as a “variable baseload technology” which makes it closer to the capacity of gas and coal-fired power plants, than onshore wind and solar PV. For context, just one rotation of one offshore wind turbine provides as much energy as an average rooftop solar installation generates in one day, with less fluctuation than onshore wind.

The Hunter is one of six priority regions around Australia with world-class offshore wind potential, the ministry said. The zone has the potential to create up to 8 GW of offshore wind power, Minister Bowen was reported as saying by the local media outlets.

The Commonwealth recently declared Gippsland off the La Trobe Valley as the first region in Australia to be home to a new offshore wind industry.

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The government has previously announced a further four regions earmarked for offshore wind zones. These include the Pacific Ocean region off the Illawarra in NSW, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury.

Some of the projects proposed to be developed off the Hunter include the 2 GW Novocastrian wind farm proposed by OceanEx and Equinor, the 1.65 GW Hunter Coast floating wind farm being developed by BlueFloat Energy and Energy Estate, and the 10 Newcastle Offshore Wind Energy Pty Ltd (NOWE) floating wind project recently acquired by EDF Renewables.

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