Offshore wind farms are to be permitted for the first time in Australia., following a seminal decision by climate change minister Chris Bowen.
Bowen has declared part of the Victoria coast an offshore wind zone: the country’s first offshore wind zone, which gives developers permission to increase their planning and consultation for wind farm projects.
Australia currently has no offshore wind generation, which has historically been viewed as too expensive and hard to build compared to onshore wind or solar projects.
Bowen said there is no time to lose.
“We are way behind the game, way behind the rest of the world in producing wind off our coastline. Again, we have a lot of catching up to do. Offshore wind is jobs-rich and energy-rich,” he said.
The first official offshore wind zone is off the Gippsland coast in the state of Victoria.
There are plans to install up to 200 wind turbines, with the closest located 7 kilometres from the coastline. It would be one of the world’s largest wind farms. Construction could begin in 2025.
Other areas will follow off the coasts of New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Wind turbines have been identified as a key part in Australia’s plan to generate more than 80% of its energy needs with renewable sources by 2030.
In 2020, 24% of Australia’s electricity came from renewable energy, up from 21% in 2019.
Solar is Australia’s largest source of green power. A quarter of Australian homes have rooftop solar systems — the highest uptake in the world.
Despite this, Australia has been one of the world’s worst per capita emitters of greenhouse pollution. Coal and gas still generate most of its electricity.
However, Australia now has a legislated target to cut greenhouse gas output.
Last week, new laws were passed by the federal parliament in Canberra that will cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2030.