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Unions have responded to new report findings of abundant offshore wind resources by urging governments to take action and support the offshore wind industry. 

Offshore Wind Energy in Australia, produced by Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, highlights promising locations, near existing transmission infrastructure, including: Port Kembla, Newcastle, Gladstone, and south of Perth.  

The unions have requested the Federal and State Governments: 

  • Establish a national regulatory regime for the development of offshore renewable energy
  • Incorporate offshore wind into energy planning
  • Support the development of local supply chain capacity to maximise community benefits
  • Recognise offshore wind as a strategic resource for innovation and commercialisation funding.

The report has brought together expertise from the CSIRO, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, industry and trade unions ─ offering detailed analysis of the industry’s potential benefits and outlines the necessary regulatory reforms.

Electrical Trades Union National Secretary, Allen Hicks, said, “Offshore wind farms have the potential to generate clean, cheap, reliable power that is close to existing electricity transmission infrastructure, large industrial users, and major population centres.

“These projects are vital to efforts to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, but we need to ensure they come with jobs that offer equivalent security, wages and investment in education and training.”

Offshore Wind Energy in Australia found that the offshore wind industry, with local manufacturing of components, could support up to 8,000 jobs a year, providing a transition for workers currently employed in the offshore oil and gas industries, along with onshore workers in fossil fuel industries.

Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary, Paddy Crumlin, said, “We know that a net zero emission, renewable energy-powered economy is necessary to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

“Australia has highly-skilled seafarers and offshore oil and gas workers capable of constructing offshore wind projects.

“The development of an offshore wind industry would provide the opportunity for these workers to transition into the important work of delivering Australia’s clean energy future.

“Offshore wind requires many of the skills that workers in fossil fuel industries have and can be built in places where workers have those skills, such as Newcastle, Port Kembla, Gippsland and Gladstone.”

The report also states that offshore wind would contribute to the grid by delivering a more diverse electricity supply that compliments other renewable energy sources, providing reliable power when solar and onshore wind is unavailable, along with delivering high capacity factors and large scale generation.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) NSW and ACT Secretary, Cory Wright, said, “By actively ensuring towers and turbines are produced locally, the environmental benefits would be amplified by delivering economic and social outcomes.”

The Offshore Wind Energy in Australia report is available here. 

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