Australia Southern Ocean

Australia Declares Third Offshore Wind Zone, Initial Area Size Reduced

The Australian federal government has declared an area in the Southern Ocean off western Victoria as the country’s third offshore wind development zone, though with a considerable reduction in both size and power generation capacity.

The final area is located at least 15-20 kilometres from Victoria’s coast and covers 1,030 square kilometres, one-fifth of the originally proposed zone.

Australia Southern Ocean
Source: Australian federal government

The originally proposed area would have spanned from Warrnambool in Victoria to Port MacDonnell in South Australia. However, after community consultations with local leaders, industry and community groups and the raising of concerns about environmental issues and cultural heritage, the original development proposal was revised to remove an area off South Australia, according to the government.

The initially planned area was intended to accommodate 14 GW of offshore wind power, but the government subsequently scaled it down to a mere 2.9 GW of offshore wind capacity, which could be enough to power over two million homes.

“This is another step closer to delivering our target of at least 2 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2032 and will also help us get to net zero by 2045,” said Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio.

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According to the government, the area will create 1,740 jobs during construction and open 870 ongoing operation positions such as engineers, labourers, technicians, operators, riggers, divers, and administrators.

“The Southern Ocean offshore wind zone has the potential to create thousands of new, high-value jobs and help secure cleaner, cheaper more reliable energy for regional Victoria,” said Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change and Energy.

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Southern Ocean zone will open from 6 March until 2 July 2024.

During that stage, developers will carry out detailed environmental assessments and engage in further consultation, including how the project will coexist with the shipping, tourism, and fishing industries.

The zone is one of the six the Australian government is considering for offshore wind development, two of which have already been designated as offshore wind zones: one off the Hunter Valley and one in the Bass Strait off Gippsland.

The remaining three zones include the Pacific Ocean region off the Illawarra in NSW, the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury.

Recently, the government launched a consultation on the final zone off the Bunbury region in Western Australia which has a potential for 20 GW of offshore wind capacity.

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