Thousands of jobs will be created over the next 15 years, as Australia moves to its renewable energy future, with the announcement of Australia’s first offshore wind zone.
The Bass Strait off Gippsland has been chosen as the first zone, with the potential to support more than 10GW of year-round energy generation – the equivalent of about five coal plants.
The area covers about 15,000 square kilometres offshore, running from Lakes Entrance in the east to south of Wilsons Promontory in the west.
The Star of the South Offshore Windfarm Project has been given major product status, with up to 200 wind turbines to be built up to 25km off the coast.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen said the declaration was a “crucial” step towards “affordable, reliable and secure energy and new economic opportunities for Australia”.
“Australia’s new offshore wind industry will start in Gippsland,” he said.
“It will support new jobs and economic development in the regions that have always powered Australia, and will power Australia into the future.
“Australia has huge potential.”
Mr Bowen said it was estimated that during development and construction, more than 2000 jobs will be created, with additional ongoing operational jobs.
The area is smaller than was originally proposed due to concerns raised by members of the community, including the “visual impact” as well as potential environmental harms.
As a result, the declared area will include a 10km buffer zone from the shore.
Industry Minister Ed Husic said the government was anticipating more projects like Star of the South in the years to come.
“We want to see more large-scale projects built in coming years. This will help integrate Australian manufacturing with renewable energy infrastructure, delivering more jobs in Australian companies,” he said.
“And that’s precisely why the National Reconstruction Fund is so important. We are putting $3 billion aside to make sustainable investments in renewables to help create those long-term, well-paid jobs.”