Australia's first offshore wind farm begins testing

Australia's first offshore wind farm begins testing

Australia's first proposed offshore wind farm, which could provide enough power for more than 1.2 million homes, will begin scientific testing this month off the Victorian coastline near Gippsland.

The test comes as the labor movement launches a campaign to pressure state and federal governments to pave the way for the project to move forward.

The Star of the South wind farm is expected to provide up to 2,000 megawatts of power, about 18 percent of the state's power demand, and will cost between $ 8 billion and $ 10 billion.

In a few weeks, the company will begin detailed studies of wind and wave conditions in the 496 square kilometer area on the south coast of Gippsland. It will also carry out environmental studies on marine and bird life.

If feasible, the wind farm is scheduled to provide “full power” by 2027.

Melbourne's The Age newspaper reported that unions hope the wind farm will provide secure jobs for electricity workers in the Latrobe Valley, where the economy has relied heavily on coal-fired power generation.

The Latrobe Valley was hit hard by the closure of the Hazelwood Power Plant in 2017, and the remaining coal-fired power plants will begin to close in the coming decades.

The Age also reports that the wider region is bracing for further job losses with the Labor state government eliminating native timber logging by 2030, prompting a furious response from the Union of Mining and Maritime Energy Construction Forestry ( CFMMEU).

Previous estimates indicated that the Star of the South wind farm could include 250 turbines, but that has yet to be determined.

His proposed site is between 10 kilometers and 25 kilometers from Port Albert on the south coast of Victoria.

The same newspaper reported last week that a group of unions and the Victorian Council of Commerce released a report calling for a "direct transition" to help redistribute workers in the fossil fuel industries to jobs at Star of the South.

They want the conservative liberal-national federal government to establish a “transitional authority” and a master plan for developing renewable energy offshore.

It was also reported that Victorian Commerce Council Secretary Luke Hilakari said that political leadership was required to ensure that workers and communities that depend on fossil fuels are not discarded in the “junk heap”.
"This transition must be managed in a way that ensures that workers and their communities are put front and center," he said.

The union's report suggests that the wind farm could create 300 ongoing jobs and 2,000 construction jobs. The report was also produced by the maritime, electrical and manufacturing unions.

A spokeswoman for Star of the South said the winds were stronger and more reliable at sea, "providing stability to the network at peak times."

"We are investigating what the South Star could mean for Gippsland and the local industry, including how we could help restructure and invest in the local workforce to develop an offshore wind industry in Australia," he said.

The company plans to use the existing infrastructure in the Latrobe Valley to power the grid with electricity. Consultations with communities across Gippsland have begun.

A recent study by the Institute for Energy Financial and Economic Analysis (IEEFA) reported by EcoNews said the project was a step in the right direction despite the warning of possible overinvestment.

Earlier in the week, Labor State Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the project was still subject to environmental effects processes and federal approvals, but said supporters almost saw it as a form of base-load power given the volume of wind in the sea.

"That could be confirmed with some battery technology on the ground," Andrews said, adding: "There would be significant maintenance work."

Federal Minister of Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, accused of delaying progress on the wind farm, said the need for an offshore energy infrastructure development framework was an emerging problem.

"A future regulatory framework for offshore power infrastructure will have to accommodate transmission, generation and other concerns of ocean users," he said.

The Victorian government has set a renewable energy target of 50 percent by 2030.

Video: Developing MacArthur, the Southern Hemispheres largest wind farm (July 2021).