Wellington Shire Council, and the Federal and Victorian Governments have formally declared the Bass Strait off Gippsland as Australia’s first offshore wind zone.

The Federal Government has also awarded Major Project Status to the Star of the South Offshore Windfarm Project off the Gippsland coast.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, said Gippsland’s declaration was a crucial step towards affordable, reliable and secure energy and new economic opportunities for Australia.

“Australia’s new offshore wind industry will start in Gippsland. It will support new jobs and economic development in the regions that have always powered Australia, and will power Australia into the future,” Mr Bowen said.

“Australia has huge potential in offshore wind and today the Albanese government is giving this industry a green light. This formal declaration and the Major Project Status for Star of the South will help us catch up.”

Estimates show offshore wind projects off Gippsland could support more than 3,000 jobs over the next 15 years during their development and construction phases, and an additional 3,000 ongoing operational jobs.

Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, said the start of a domestic offshore wind industry creates tremendous opportunity for local industry and job creation.

“The Star of the South project alone will support more than 2,280 jobs during construction and a further 300 direct jobs during operations,” Mr Husic said.

“We want to see more large-scale projects built in the coming years. This will help integrate Australian manufacturing with renewable energy infrastructure, delivering more jobs in Australian companies.

“And that’s precisely why the National Reconstruction Fund is so important. We are putting $3 billion aside to make sustainable investments in renewables to help create those long-term, well-paid jobs.”

The windy Bass Strait off Gippsland, and the strong grid across Gippsland and the La Trobe Valley, mean this area has the potential to support more than 10GW of year-round wind energy generation.

The declared area in Gippsland, Victoria, covers about 15,000 square kilometres offshore, and runs from Lakes Entrance in the east to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west. 

This area was developed after a significant consultation process beginning in August 2022, taking into account views expressed by community stakeholders, industry and experts.

The Victorian and Commonwealth Governments are committed to working together over the coming year to consider the Gippsland coast west of Wilsons Prom, including further consultation with Traditional Owners and taking into account community feedback and information on environmental risks of developing offshore electricity infrastructure in the area.

First in industry projects often pose complex regulatory considerations, and the Government awarding Major Project Status to the Star of the South means it can receive tailored regulatory facilitation services – to ensure they meet their obligations without unnecessary regulatory delays. 

The announcement supports the Andrews Labor Government’s nation first Offshore Wind Targets – Victoria is aiming to hit 2GW of offshore generation by 2032, 4GW of offshore wind capacity by 2035 and 9GW by 2040.

Victoria has some of the world’s best offshore wind resources, with coast lines having full potential to support 13GW of capacity by 2050.

Victorian Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Energy and Resources and Minister for the State Electricity Commission, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “Our nation’s first offshore wind targets set Victoria’s ambition to harness the world class offshore wind resources off our coast lines – today is another milestone towards powering millions of homes and businesses with that clean energy.

“Offshore wind is key to achieving our target of 95 per cent renewable energy by 2035 in Victoria, slashing emissions and energy bills as we lead the nation in our clean energy transition.”

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Gippsland area will open soon. The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar will lead assessment of all applications against criteria set out in the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Regulations 2022, and make recommendations to the Minister.

Other regions being considered for future offshore wind energy projects are the Pacific Ocean regions off the Hunter and Illawarra in NSW, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Straight region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury in WA.

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