Australian State Releases Country's First 9GW Target for Offshore Wind

first Australian target for offshore wind power generation
Victoria has aggressive tagets for 13 GW of offshore wind power generation (file photo)

Published Mar 4, 2022 6:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Three months after legislation was passed in Australia that was seen as critical to the development of the offshore wind energy sector, the first plan was rolled out by a state for a comprehensive policy that targets the development of at least 2 GW of offshore wind power in a decade. The Victorian Offshore Wind Policy Directions Paper sets ambitious goals building on the first three planned projects for Australia to rapidly grow to 9 GW by 2040. They expect offshore wind will help the state of Victoria to halve emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“Victoria’s offshore wind resources are officially open for business, but the real work starts now,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio. “We know it will take years to plan and develop the first tranche of wind projects in Australia, due to their complexity, scale, regulatory and infrastructure requirements – and we’re ready to start that journey today.”

Winds off Victoria’s coastline are considered to be among the best in the world and according to the government, the resource can support a thriving new industry. The policy spelled out by the government of Premier Daniel Andrews includes procuring projects that the first power from offshore wind is expected as soon as 2028. Following a competitive process, they are setting targets of 4 GW for 2035 and 9 GW for 2040. Studies show the state has the potential to support a capacity of 13 GW from coastal regions by 2050, five times the state’s current renewable energy generation.

After years of advocacy by environmentalists, the Australian Parliament in November 2021 approved a series of laws to support the offshore electricity infrastructure. Known as the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 the legislation was designed to facilitate and regulate the development of electricity infrastructure in Australian waters, including the ability to designate areas for development and establish the regulatory and licensing framework for the industry. 

The Victoria government also pledged approximately A$40 million under the Energy Innovation Fund to fund feasibility studies and pre-construction development for three major offshore wind proposals. The first three projects expected to be undertaken in Australia, the Star of the South, Macquarie Group, and Flotation Energy, together could generate 4.7 GW of power.

The Clean Energy Council hailed the announcement of the policy by the Victoria government.  "Today's announcement locks in a major offshore wind industry for Victoria," said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton. "Offshore wind is no longer a possibility; it's becoming a certainty. Victoria is now leading the nation on offshore wind and is positioning itself to reap the benefits of being at the forefront of this game-changing industry."

The Council noted that with other countries including the UK and U.S. also moving forward aggressively with the development of offshore wind assets that the technology will advance rapidly. They expect the cost of power will be significantly reduced in the coming decade, noting that cost had so far been a barrier to the development of the industry in Australia.