Australian Economy

Bowen commits to offshore wind alliance as Australia weighs 40GW of proposals

offshore wind floating

Australia will join the Global Offshore Wind Alliance (GOWA), as part of the federal government’s COP27 efforts to restore the country’s climate credentials.

Offshore wind will play a critical role in Australia’s transition to zero emissions and clean energy superpower ambitions, said climate change and energy minister Chris Bowen last night at the COP27 climate conference at Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt.

This is despite the country not yet owning any operational projects, and still to formally declare the first offshore wind zone that will allow the first detailed feasibility studies.

Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Tasmania are hurrying to capitalise on more than 40 gigawatts (GW) of proposed developments, as seen on RenewEconomy’s offshore wind map.

“Australia is starting this industry from scratch and we stand to benefit from combining efforts with the Global Offshore Wind Alliance to bolster the development of this industry and the employment opportunities it will bring,” Bowen told the COP27 session.

“Countries around the world have taken advantage of the jobs and energy that offshore wind can provide. It’s time for Australia to do the same.”

GOWA is an International Renewable Energy Agency, Danish and Global Wind Energy Council initiative that wants to help lift the current 60GW of offshore wind operational around the world to 380GW by 2030.

Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, the US all joined the initiative ahead of COP27.

The hope is that Australia will be able to tap into the collective experience of other countries as it develops from scratch the port infrastructure, supply chains and workforce needed to build an offshore wind industry, says Clean Energy Council director of energy generation and storage, Dr Nicholas Aberle.

“With the stronger and steadier winds in the ocean, that kind of capacity can comfortably replace the generation from Australia’s coal fleet,” Aberle says.

“The federal government will soon finalise the first offshore wind area in Australia, off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria. More area declarations are expected over the coming 12 months. This will allow project developers to apply for feasibility licences, which will kickstart Australia’s next important wave of offshore wind development.”

The 2.2GW, $10 billion Star of the South wind farm proposed for the coast of Gippsland is set to be the first approved under a new national framework establishing the ground rules for offshore wind.

The project, jointly owned by its Australian founders and ​​Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, will take up to a decade to install 200 turbines across a 500-square-kilometre patch of ocean.

The prospects for offshore wind have attracted major players such as Orsted, Shell, Equinox, Iberdrola, Corio and others, and a host of smaller players including Danish company Copenhagen Energy, which has four different 3GW proposals in Western Australia, each costing around $8 billion to build.

See RenewEconomy’s Offshore Wind Farm Map of Australia

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