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Australia Proposes Regulatory Framework to Enable Offshore Energy

Australia proposes legislation to establish offshore wind farms
Australia proposed legislation to establish offshore wind farms (file photo)

Published Sep 2, 2021 7:39 PM by The Maritime Executive

The government of Australia introduced legislation in parliament on September 2 that would provide the regulatory framework to launch the country’s offshore energy generation including wind farms. The proposal enjoys widespread support from both sides of the political aisle as well as from unions and industry and is expected to move through parliament quickly.

“A new offshore industry, enabled by this bill, represents an important new opportunity for Australia,” said Angus Taylor, Energy Minister. “Offshore generation and transmission can deliver significant benefits to all Australians through a more secure and reliable electricity system, and create thousands of new jobs and business opportunities in regional Australia.”

While Australia has developed a strong onshore wind energy generation business, the country currently lacks the structure to support the industry’s move to offshore. This is despite the fact that experts point to a high potential to generate a significant portion of the country’s energy needs from offshore resources. They compare the offshore wind to that of the North Sea.

Currently, Australia generates approximately 10 percent of its energy needs from onshore wind farms with a combined generation of approximately 7.4 GW annually. A further 4 GW of onshore wind energy is currently in development across the country.

According to Minster Taylor, the bill proposed to parliament will accelerate several offshore projects already in the development stage. The legislation establishes a framework for the construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of offshore electricity projects addressing issues such as cabling as well as environmental concerns. The legislation requires project developers to make financial commitments to properly decommission projects when they are no longer productive. This ensures according to the government that taxpayers will not be required to pay for the removal of any retired assets in the future.

Under the legislation, the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) will oversee licenses for offshore projects, while the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) will have oversight of ongoing operations and safety.

The government reports that more than 10 major offshore wind energy projects have already been proposed and begun development. If all the project proceeds, they have the potential to generate more than 25 GW of energy annually. The government has also said that they expect the clear framework and requirements would rapidly spur additional development.