Global renewable energy heavyweights prepare to enter Australia

Fever interest from foreign entities has led NSW to also explore its own offshore wind target, and global energy giant Equinor this month announced plans to develop a renewable energy project in NSW after concluding a partnership with OceanEx.

Offshore wind has also won favor with the new federal government, which is moving aggressively towards its goal of having zero-emission sources account for more than 80% of the country’s electricity mix by 2030, which would enable the country to reach its net goal – zero target by 2050.

Long queue forms

Ocean Winds’ entry into Gippsland swells a rapidly growing portfolio of offshore wind projects in the region, which includes the country’s most advanced development, Star of the South, Corio Generation, a Green Investment Group holding company of Macquarie, and Shell.

Ocean Winds was only formed in 2020 with 1500 MW of offshore wind projects under construction and 4 GW in advanced development. It aims to reach 5 GW to 7 GW of projects in operation or under construction and 5 GW to 10 GW in advanced development by 2025.

Australia’s untapped wind resources are considered comparable to the best in the world. Importantly, much of it is in the south, close to demand centers and grid connections in areas such as the Latrobe Valley, where coal-fired power stations will retire in the coming years. , leaving valuable transportation infrastructure underutilized and thousands of workers unemployed. .

Around Victoria, the strength and regularity of wind speeds are high by international standards, while a large area of ​​shallow ocean from less than 50 meters to 60 meters deep is suitable for fixed wind turbine platforms at the seabed, a much more mature and less expensive technology. than floating turbines.

Last month, Energy Minister Chris Bowen launched a 60-day public consultation for Gippsland – considered a foregone conclusion due to local support for offshore wind – and developers were told that applications for licenses to feasibility should be open at the beginning of December.

A so-called feasibility license gives its holder exclusive rights to part of the region for seven years, essential for attracting investment. Details on how many licenses will be issued have not been revealed, but industry sources expect up to four, and with so many potential developers, competition is intense.

It is unclear whether regulators will favor those with the deepest pockets and global experience developing offshore wind projects or smaller developers who have spent years conducting preliminary work and developing community relationships. local.

One solution could be the partnership of developers, allowing everyone a share of the market.

“I suspect the offshore wind industry will echo that of the oil and gas industry, where you see new developments often developed in partnership. It’s billions of dollars of investment and the partnerships will reduce the risk,” an industry executive said.

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