After years of delays and inaction the Federal Energy Minister Chris Bowen is set to accelerate offshore wind for Gippsland, which has been designated the first region in the country to develop offshore wind.
Environment organisation Friends of the Earth has welcomed the news, and says kickstarting an offshore wind sector in Gippsland will be a game changer for the state’s efforts on climate change while creating thousands of new job opportunities.
“The federal government’s decision to declare Gippsland the first designated zone for offshore wind is a huge vote of confidence for the future of renewable energy in the region” said Wendy Farmer, community campaigner for Friends of the Earth in Gippsland.
Gippsland could soon be home to the country's first offshore wind farm, the landmark Star of the South project. It will have a generation capacity of 2,000MW and meet up to 20% of the state's energy needs, while a second proposal east of 90 Mile Beach could also deliver 1,500MW of new energy generation.
“There are currently four offshore wind proposals off the Gippsland coast representing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in regional investment, opportunities that Gippsland has been calling for and waiting for” said Farmer.
“On top of onshore wind and solar projects throughout Gippsland, and the solar panels people are putting on their own roofs and businesses, this is a huge amount of new power supply” added Farmer.
The news comes shortly after the Australian Energy Market Operator suspended the National Electricity Market, following evidence that large coal and gas companies withheld power supply right when it was needed most.
After years of failure on climate and energy policy at the federal level, the suspension of the National Electricity Market is a reminder that governments need to plan the energy transition.
Earlier this year, Victoria announced ambitious targets to build a massive 9 GWs of offshore wind by 2040, with the goal of switching on the country’s first offshore wind project by 2028. Consultation is currently underway.
The beginning of a whole new industry is an opportunity to get offshore wind right. Friends of the Earth will be launching a series of community conversations about Gippsland’s offshore wind future to make sure regional communities have a stake in this exciting new sector.
Wendy Farmer, Friends of the Earth Campaigner,
[email protected] 0408 261 551