National environment group Friends of the Earth have welcomed the referral of Australia’s first offshore wind farm the Star of the South project to state and federal planning and environment ministers, and says building renewable energy could be key to the post-Covid recovery effort.
“The Star of the South offshore wind farm would be a game changer for new renewable energy supply and taking action on climate change in Victoria. It will create thousands of jobs and mark the beginning of a whole new sector” said Pat Simons, Friends of the Earth’s renewable energy spokesperson.
If it goes ahead the Star of the South could power as many as 1.2 million homes with renewable energy, providing around 18% of Victoria’s electricity needs. It’s expected that building the project would create 2,000 direct jobs, and 10,000 indirect jobs during construction, and 300 ongoing positions.
Friends of the Earth is a strong supporter of establishing the new industry to cut emissions and created new jobs, and has campaigned for the federal government to stop holding up offshore wind projects like Star of the South.
The referral comes days after new ABS data revealed a record-breaking surge in renewable energy jobs last financial year. Thanks to its state renewable energy target, Victoria has led jobs growth in the renewable energy sector, posting a massive 72 percent increase in the number of wind and solar workers to a total of 6,090 over 2018-19.
With no national renewable energy policy beyond 2020, there is a risk these numbers could fall off a cliff at a time when governments are trying to keep the economy alive after the dual crises of the disastrous bushfire season and the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Building landmark renewable energy projects like Star of the South could be key to the post-Covid recovery effort, creating local jobs, bolstering domestic electricity supply while reducing greenhouse gas emissions” said Simons.
Following the public release of three options for transmission pathways to connect Star of the South to transmission lines at the Latrobe Valley, it’s critical there are ample opportunities for the community to have input into planning and environmental processes to shape the project for the better.
“With the right government support this could be the first of many jobs-rich offshore wind projects in Australia and it’s important we get it right” added Simons.
Friends of the Earth will be tracking the consultation, approvals and legislative processes closely and urges both levels of government to now trigger relevant assessment processes as a matter of urgency.
Now is the time to set out the building blocks for building a sustainable post-Covid economy.
Pat Simons, Yes 2 Renewables Coordinator
P: 0415 789 961