A new report on Australia’s offshore wind potential has identified the Hunter coast as a potentially suitable location for the development of new wind farms.
The Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre report calls for a renewed consideration of the substantial contribution offshore wind can contribute to Australia’s future clean energy mix.
It argues that Australia is yet to capitalise on significant offshore wind capacity despite the International Energy Agency nominating it as one of the “big three” likely sources of renewable energy globally alongside solar and onshore wind.
New research shows Australia has very high quality and abundant offshore wind resources close to the existing transmission grid.
Sites that have traditionally been electricity generation hubs, such as the Hunter and Latrobe valleys and Gladstone, were found to be particularly suitable as they were close to transmission grids and had strong offshore winds at times when solar and onshore wind output was limited.
More than 2,000 gigawatts could potentially be installed within 100 kilometres of current substations and excluding environmentally restricted and low wind areas – far in excess of total current electricity generation.
The research project brought together expertise from CSIRO, the University of Technology’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, Saitec Offshore and the Maritime Union of Australia with contributions from other unions.
“We know that a net zero emission, renewable energy-powered economy is necessary to limit the worst impacts of climate change,” Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said.
“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 to 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.
Research Director from the Institute for Sustainable Futures Chris Briggs said offshore wind technology offered significant employment opportunities for workers in existing fossil fuel industries.
“Offshore wind has been an important source of alternative employment as Europe transitions to clean energy, especially the offshore oil and gas sector where the skills are often highly transferrable. Offshore wind can play an important role in a ‘just transition’ in Australia,” he said.
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