More offshore wind farms headed for Wellington coast

Photo: File

Gippsland’s coast looks set to gain yet another offshore wind farm, garnering the backing of all levels of government.

Announced publicly on Friday, June 10, the proposed Great Eastern Offshore Wind project will be built 22 kilometres from the Wellington Shire coast and power up to 1.6 million households.

The project is being pursued by UK-based firm Corio Generation, with the financial backing of Macquarie Bank’s Green Investment Group.

“We see a significant opportunity for offshore wind in Australia, which enjoys an abundance of this natural resource,” Corio Generation chief executive officer Jonathan Cole said.

“This, together with clear regulatory frameworks and government support, means offshore wind can contribute to Australia’s energy transition, as well as support local businesses and jobs in the green economy.

“While offshore wind is a new technology in Australia, it is well established in countries such as the UK where it is a proven, clean and cost-competitive source of electricity.

“Offshore wind will play an important role in the mix of renewable energy that support Australia’s transition to a lower-carbon economy.”

State Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the proposed wind farm demonstrates why Victoria is the offshore wind capital of Australia.

“Our nation-leading offshore wind targets are already driving significant investment interest and will create thousands of jobs in clean energy, helping us hit net zero by 2050,” Minister D’Ambrosio said.

Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has welcomed Corio Generation’s announcement.

“This is the fourth such project proposed off the Ninety Mile Beach and they are collectively building a potentially very exciting future for our region,” Mr O’Brien said.

“As oil and gas in Bass Strait winds down, these offshore developments offer the potential to help ease the transition for local workers and the economy.

“I would strongly prefer wind farms offshore to the land-based versions that cause division in rural communities.

“There are many issues still to work through, not least of which is the manner in which transmission lines through our region will be built to connect these projects to the grid.

“But on balance, central Gippsland could be the home of offshore wind in Australia and continue our role as a powerhouse of energy production for the state and the nation.”

Federal MP Darren Chester has also welcomed the announcement of another offshore wind project in Gippsland.

“Investment in renewable energy in our region supports local jobs and ensures our energy and manufacturing sectors continue to prosper,” Mr Chester said.

“I look forward to the outcome of the feasibility studies and welcome consultations for locals and the region.”

Further support for the project has come from Wellington Shire Mayor Councillor Ian Bye.

“Wellington Shire Council supports the renewable energy sector and is a key stakeholder in the Gippsland Renewable Energy Zone (GREZ),” Mayor Bye said.

“Climate change is one of the five priority areas identified in Council’s four year Council Plan, with a key target to become one of the leading best practice renewable energy and sustainability hubs in the country.

“We look forward to hearing from Corio Generation about their plans.”

If approved, Great Eastern would be the largest offshore windfarm in the Southern Hemisphere, generating 2.5 gigawatts of energy.

This eclipses the proposed Star of the South project – also slated for construction in the Bass Strait – which plans on generating 2.2GW.

Corio Generation is currently developing another 15 offshore wind projects in Europe and Asia.

It is also pursuing the Great Southern Offshore Wind project, planned for the Bass Coast.

When asked for comment from the Gippsland Times, Corio Generation was unable to provide a timeline for construction of either project, only to say they would be “completed in time to contribute to the Victorian Government’s Renewable Energy Targets.”

Star of the South is expected to be completed by 2028.