While hundreds of thousands rallied for climate action across the country this September, momentum is building for Australia’s offshore wind proposal, with consultation underway into the Star of the South across Gippsland in Victoria.
Over the past fortnight public information sessions were held in Morwell, Lakes Entrance, Yarram, Woodside, Leongatha and Port Franklin about the next steps for the project. Yes 2 Renewables attended sessions in Morwell, Yarram and Woodside, which were well attended by workers, residents, farmers, and fishers from the region.
If it goes ahead, the 2.2 gigawatt Star of the South offshore wind farm proposed east of Port Albert could power as many as 1.2 million homes with clean, renewable energy, create thousands of jobs and presents the opportunity to establish Gippsland as an offshore wind hub.
With detailed site investigations set to begin later this year, the company developing the project Offshore Energy presented plans for studying the wind resource and the marine environment. These detailed studies will inform the final design of the proposal, which would need approvals at the state and federal level to go ahead.
A number of experts were on hand to answer questions about the project covering a number of issues including the how the site study will occur, design of the wind farm, the construction process, manufacturing opportunities, planning of transmission associated with the project, and how the regulatory framework might work.
Asked about the potential to establish domestic manufacturing as part of the project at the Woodside session, co-founder of Star of the South Peter Sgardelis said “all options are on the table”, with procurement experts suggesting some components could be sourced locally if there is capacity in the region.
While Australia currently has no regulatory framework in place at a federal level to assess and approve offshore wind proposals like the Star of the South, Executive Chairman of Offshore Energy Terry Kallis said they are working with the state and federal governments to establish one.
It’s safe to say there is a lot of interest in Star of the South, which would be a game changer for climate action in Victoria, and presents an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and establish a whole new sector in Gippsland.
With ExxonMobil recently announcing the sale of its Gippsland offshore gas assets, and the closure of the Yallourn coal fired power station looming, the need to create alternative forms of employment in the region as Victoria transitions away from fossil fuels is now even more urgent.
If the company and the state and federal governments get all their ducks in a row, Star of the South could begin construction by 2022, begin generating electricity by 2025, with the wind farm expected to be generating at “full power” by 2027.
While it’s early days, Star of the South represents a huge opportunity for Victoria and Gippsland: Victoria is now on the map for offshore wind.
Consultation is still underway into the project at this early stage, have your say here to help shape Star of the South.
Yes2Renewables will be playing close attention to the project as site investigations get underway, and will be engaging positively to ensure the regulatory framework for offshore wind represents best practise.
READ MORE: Victoria on the map for offshore wind
GET INVOLVED: Join Yes 2 Renewables at our regular action meetings, every Tuesday 6PM upstairs at Friends of the Earth Melbourne