The Australian government has introduced legislation that could pave the way for offshore wind farms to be developed in Commonwealth waters beyond 5.5km from the coast.
Under the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021, Australia would establish a framework for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of offshore electricity projects.
This would include infrastructure projects for offshore electricity transmission cables and offshore renewable energy generation, including offshore wind.
The bill would ensure co-existence with other users of the sea is managed from the start of a project. It would also require project developers to make financial commitments to properly decommission projects at the end of their operating life, the government claimed.
The bill was introduced in the Australian House of Representatives on 2 September. A final text of the bill would need to be agreed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before it can be signed into law by the Governor-General.
Australia has previously been accused of dragging its heels on offshore wind – particularly over allowing developers of what could be the country’s first offshore wind farm to assess wind resources and seabed conditions at their planned site.
The developers of the 2000MW Star of the South Star of the South (2000MW) Offshoreoff Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, Asia-Pacific Click to see full details project off the coast of the Gippsland region in Victoria – which is in line to be Australia’s first offshore wind farm – welcomed the bill, and said they would look at it in detail to fully understand what it means for development.
Casper Frost Thorhauge, CEO of the joint venture company developing the Star of the South project, said: “This legislation is a key step to realising Australia’s offshore wind potential and unlocking the associated economic benefits, including providing opportunities for the nation’s strong resources and maritime sectors.
“We are excited to help create Australia’s offshore wind industry and continue Gippsland’s proud history of power generation into the future – supporting new local jobs and transitioning skills.”
Australia currently has an offshore wind pipeline of 6.6GW, according to Windpower Intelligence, the research and data division of Windpower Monthly.