BREAKING: Australia Awards First Offshore Wind Feasibility Licences, Major Developers Lined Up with 12+ GW in Generation Capacity

The Australian government has awarded the first feasibility licences for offshore wind projects to six wind farms proposed to be built offshore Gippsland in Victoria, with a further six licences expected to be awarded, subject to First Nations consultation. The total capacity of Australia’s first six offshore wind projects to receive feasibility licences is around 12 GW.

The first feasibility licences have been secured by High Sea Wind (Ocean Winds), Gippsland Skies (a consortium comprising Mainstream Renewable Power, Reventus Power, AGL Energy and DIRECT Infrastructure), Blue Mackerel North (Parkwind/JERA Nex), Kut-Wut Brataualung (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Corporation), Ørsted Offshore Australia 1, and Star of the South Wind Farm (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, NZ Super, and Cbus Super).

These developers are now cleared to begin the detailed assessment work to determine feasibility, including environmental studies and management plans. After establishing their projects’ feasibility, the companies can then apply for a commercial licence to build the offshore wind farms and generate electricity.

The award of the first feasibility licences was announced on 1 May by Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, who said the government intended to grant another six licences, subject to First Nations consultation.

The further six projects that could soon reach this stage are developed by Iberdrola Australia OW 2 (Aurora Green), Greater Gippsland 2 OWP Project (Gippsland Dawn), Navigator North Project, Ørsted Offshore Australia 1 (the Gippsland 02 project), Kent Offshore Wind, and Great Eastern Offshore Wind Farm Project.

If approved to be built, the twelve offshore wind farms would have a total of 25 GW of generation capacity, enough to power the Gippsland region’s annual industrial consumption 100 times over, and could create over 15,000 jobs during construction and another 7,500 ongoing jobs, according to the government.

The government opened a window for applications for feasibility licences within the Gippsland area on 23 January 2023. The application period closed in April last year with 37 feasibility licence applications received, after which the government began the review process.

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The applications were assessed by the Offshore Infrastructure Registrar against the suitability and merit requirements set out in the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act) and associated regulations. The requirements include technical and financial capability, likely project viability, applicant suitability and the national interest.

In December 2023, Australia’s Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) said that six of the 37 received applications were under preliminary consideration for the granting of feasibility licences and progressed to the next stage of consultation with First Nation groups.

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The six additional applications, now expected to also be granted feasibility licences, also made it to preliminary consideration at the end of the last year but needed to go through an overlapping application process.

For the remaining 25 applications, a preliminary decision was made to not proceed to grant a feasibility licence on the basis that they are not as meritorious as overlapping applications, DCCEEW said in December 2023.


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