Australia Working Towards Declaring Next Offshore Wind Zone
The Australian federal government has launched consultation on a new offshore wind zone off the Illawarra in New South Wales (NSW), where a Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) was also declared by the NSW state government at the beginning of this year.
The proposed offshore wind area has the potential to house up to 4.2 GW of offshore wind generation capacity, which would be enough to power up to 3.4 million homes, according to the federal government.
The consultation period, open until 16 October, includes six community information sessions across the Illawarra in which community members, industries and businesses are encouraged to participate.
The proposed Illawarra offshore wind zone covers 1,461 square kilometres and is located 10 kilometres from shore at its nearest point, out to 30 kilometres at Kiama.
“The Illawarra was identified for its strong offshore wind resource, major port infrastructure and role as an industrial and manufacturing hub looking to transform to greater renewable generation and thrive in a changing global economy”, the government says in a press release issued on 14 August.
The zone is said to be able to deliver up to 2,500 jobs in construction and 1,250 ongoing jobs.
“Offshore wind is energy rich and jobs rich but despite having some of the best wind resources in the world, Australia doesn’t currently have any offshore wind”, said Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen.
“This presents a huge economic opportunity for the regions that help power Australia – like the Illawarra, to continue to power our nation for generations to come”.
In February this year, the government of New South Wales declared the Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the Illawarra region as the fifth and final REZ to be declared of the first five zones identified under the NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.
In 2022, the NSW government announced that it had received 44 expressions of interest for power generation and energy storage projects at the Illawarra REZ, eight of which were for offshore wind farms.
Across Australia, in addition to the Illawarra, the Hunter and the Southern Ocean, the federal government has previously announced the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury as further regions earmarked for offshore wind zones.
Last month, after completing consultation and narrowing down the initially identified area, the government officially declared the offshore wind zone off the Hunter region and, at the beginning of this month, invited developers to apply for feasibility licences.
The first offshore wind zone to be officially declared was the Bass Strait off Victoria’s Gippsland region, with the four other areas expected to follow soon after the consultation for them are completed.
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