Offshore wind offers a reliable and clean energy source for our electricity network and could form a significant part of the transition to a renewable energy system that we urgently require. While Victoria is most advanced in plans to develop an offshore wind industry in Australia, there are now plans for offshore wind zones in a number of coastal regions around the country.
The federal government is seeking community input before 15 November 2023 on a offshore wind zone for the Illawarra, beginning in waters 10km east of Wollongong. There has previously been consultations for proposed wind zones in Gippsland in Victoria and the Hunter region in NSW. The details for the Illawarra have not yet been determined, so we have an opportunity to ensure that this project is done in a way that helps secure the future of our environment, community and economy.
Please send a submission today by following the guide prepared by local organisation Good for the Gong.
Offshore wind is a mature technology that has been used for decades in many parts of the world and it is being developed rapidly. For instance, Europe installed 2.1 GW of new offshore wind in the first half of 2023, bringing its total offshore wind capacity to 32 GW. To put this into perspective, the overall generating capacity of the Eraring power station, Australia’s largest power station, is 2,922 MW (2.9 GW).
However, the industry is just getting going here in Australia. We have a wonderful chance to get the jobs that will come from this industry, and starting an entire new industry allows us to ensure rigorous environmental protections are in place. If we lock in good local jobs and procurement and strong environmental guidelines in the Illawarra this will have benefit elsewhere as it will set a precedent about how the industry should develop.
If the offshore wind zone goes ahead, the Illawarra could power as many as 3.4 million homes with clean, renewable energy, creating up to 2,500 jobs during construction, and over 1000 ongoing.
A new location organisation Good for the Gong has been created to champion the community's vision for offshore wind and we back them all the way.
Image: Environmentalists and the South Coast Labor Council unite in support of offshore wind for the Illawarra
Friends of the Earth (FoE) strongly supports the development of an offshore wind industry in Australia. FoE supports a strong assessment process to ensure projects do not have unacceptable impacts on marine environments and the animals that rely on them like whales. We also support deep engagement with First Nations to make sure the industry is established with free, prior and informed consent. We can see the enormous employment and economic benefits attached to the rapid development of an offshore wind industry. To give one example, the Star of the South project proposed for Gippsland is expected to create up to 2,000 direct jobs in Victoria over its lifetime, including 760 Gippsland jobs during construction and 200 ongoing local jobs once it’s up and running. The project would invest around $8.7 billion in Victoria over its lifetime, including an estimated $6.4 billion direct boost to Gippsland’s economy. It will be able to power up to 1.2 million homes and provide up to 20% of Victoria’s electricity needs.
We are campaigning for a robust ecological assessment process to ensure there are strong protections for marine ecosystems and species. We see the need for good, union jobs in this sector, and also want to see social and economic benefits flow to local communities and businesses and support laws which will ensure maximum local manufacturing and procurement. We believe all of this is achievable if workers, community and environment groups work together.
FoE supports the position of community group Electrify 2515, who say:
We have immense wind resources, a skilled workforce, existing port infrastructure and strong electricity grid connections making this an opportunity for our region to become a thriving industrial precinct and provide our kids with diverse job opportunities as they grow up. While clean energy will power millions of homes, thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created not just during construction phase but also during the 30 odd years of operation (salty conditions make for a lot of required maintenance - which is a good thing for jobs).
Not to mention less reliance on foreign oil, more money for our local economy, supporting manufacturing with reliable power, cleaner air and healthier communities.
You can be involved and express your views via a survey on the federal Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website – available here.
It will ask your view on a series of questions such as
- your standpoint on the proposed area being declared for offshore renewable energy
- if you have any concerns related to fishing for offshore wind in this proposed area or visual impacts
- what the likely environmental benefits or costs will be (helping reduce Australia’s contribution to climate change is an obvious benefit).
Doing the survey is likely to take 10 – 15 minutes.
You can also attach a submission while doing the survey if you would like to make one.
If you would like further background information to assist in making a submission or taking the survey, check out the submission guide on the Good for the Gong website.
Got more questions? Join the Good for the Gong Facebook discussion group