Featured image: Port Kembla concept plan. Image courtesy of NSW Ports

A newly proposed offshore wind zone throughout the Illawarra region in New South Wales, which could power up to 3.4 million homes and open numerous local jobs, has opened consultations.

The Illawarra coastal region was identified as a potential site due to its strong offshore wind resources and port infrastructure as well as its workforce. The implementation of the wind zone and the introduction of renewable energy throughout the region could also help bolster the community’s economy and open the opportunity for regional jobs.  

The Australian Government has opened a consultation period until 16 October and is expected to include up to six community information sessions across the region, allowing for all members, business and industries to voice their concerns and questions. 

The proposed offshore wind zone would be up 1461 km² in total and would stretch at least 10km from shore and out to 30km at Kiama, providing up to 2,500 new jobs in construction and 1,250 ongoing jobs. 

A singular turn of one offshore wind turbine can provide the equivalent amount of energy as an average rooftop solar installation in a whole day, as well as more consistent energy than offshore wind. 

Federal Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Bowen, said that the implementation of the offshore wind development provides new transformative potential for the Illawarra region. 

“Offshore wind is energy rich and jobs rich but despite having some of the best wind resources in the world, Australia doesn’t currently have any offshore wind. 

“This presents a huge economic opportunity for the regions that help power Australia – like the Illawaara, to continue to power our nation for generations to come,” Mr Bowen said.

“This is a genuine consultation and I encourage all community members to get involved and have their say on the proposed zone.”

Information sessions will commence 18 September, providing community members with the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the potential offshore wind zone for the Illawarra. 

In addition to the Illawarra, the Hunter and the Southern Ocean, the government has previously announced the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury as further regions earmarked for offshore wind zones.

NSW Ports CEO, Marika Calfas, agreed with the proposed port of Port Kembla as part of the Outer Harbour development plan, which is close to Sydney’s growing population, and is within the Illawarra Renewable Zone and adjacent to the Federal Government’s proposed Illawarra offshore wind development zone. 

“Our proposed facility provides an opportunity for significant job creation, domestic innovation and decarbonisation. But we need to act now to progress these plans that can strengthen our region and support our state,” Ms Calfa said.

Port Kembla is considered a key infrastructure asset and economic driver for the state, contributing $2.9 billion per year to the New South Wales economy and supporting over 10,000 jobs. 

“NSW Ports stands ready to work with the New South Wales and Federal Governments on measures to provide investment certainty for offshore wind projects – and the usage of our port facilities – to underpin future infrastructure needs,” Ms Calfa said. 

“Today’s announcement demonstrates the Federal Government’s commitment to offshore wind in the Illawarra and is a critical step for industry to progress projects that will help deliver a more sustainable energy future.”

More information on the community consultation sessions can be viewed here

Featured image: Port Kembla concept plan. Image courtesy of NSW Ports

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