MEDIA RELEASE: 27 Oct 2021
Australia a step closer on offshore wind after lower house vote
Australia’s first offshore wind bill has today passed in the House of Representatives, a critical step forward in establishing a jobs-rich offshore wind industry in Australia.
The bill is a win for the hundreds of community members, unions and environment groups who have called for the federal government to end the delays to offshore wind.
Voting on the bill comes just days after the Morrison government finally announced a commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a move widely criticised for failing to meet expectations ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
Offshore wind has a key role to play in decarbonising the electricity sector and represents an opportunity to create thousands of jobs in regional communities, particularly in places like the Latrobe Valley, Newcastle and Gladstone, already home to energy infrastructure and currently heavily reliant on the fossil fuel sector.
The legislation creates a licensing regime for offshore renewable energy projects in Commonwealth Waters, but sets no long-term targets for rolling out offshore wind projects.
Friends of the Earth says the next test for the Coalition on offshore wind is whether it follows the lead of the US and UK by setting an offshore wind target to rollout projects between now and 2030.
“Australia can create thousands of jobs in the offshore wind industry, but only with a strong climate and energy targets to deploy the technology” said Friends of the Earth's renewable energy spokesperson Pat Simons.
"Will Scott Morrison follow Joe Biden and Boris Johnson by setting ambitious targets for offshore wind?" added Simons.
The campaign for offshore wind has been led by unions and regional communities like Gippsland in Victoria, which could soon be home to the country’s first offshore wind farm--the Star of the South project.
“This is a win for the community, for unions and environment groups that have been calling for jobs and investment in offshore wind,” said Wendy Farmer, Friends of the Earth’s Gippsland renewable energy campaigner.
“With this important legislation making its way through parliament, Australia will need to go further with a proper offshore wind industry policy that delivers for communities, for workers and the environment.”
After being signed off in the lower house, the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act will proceed to the Senate for the final vote of approval.
Friends of the Earth will be tracking the bill closely, and monitoring the major parties’ policies to accelerate offshore wind.