Mere hours after the US announced its catastrophic decision to exit the Paris Climate Agreement, Australia has reconfirmed its commitment to clean energy, showing support for a plan worth $8 billion to build our first offshore wind farm.
Though still very much in its early stages, the plan would provide 18% of Victoria’s energy needs, and power 1.2 million homes. While federal and state ministers have shown early support for the proposal, it still needs to receive government approval to go ahead, and studies into its feasibility could take another three years.
The private company Offshore Energy have been working with the federal government to develop a plan for a 250-turbine strong offshore wind farm. The farm would be located in the waters near Port Albert, between 10 and 25 kilometres offshore. The farm would spread across 570 square kilometres of the ocean, and would reduce carbon emissions by approximately 10.5 million tonnes annually.
The main benefit of such a proposal simply comes from practicality – the ocean off the Gippsland coast is a far more consistent and constant wind resource than inland counterparts. Offshore winds projects are a fairly new concept, but they have been developing rapidly in Europe. The United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands have all built offshore wind farms – the U.K has the most, with a staggering 10 farms built since 2011. Although the U.K generates more offshore wind energy than any other country in the world, according to The Crown Estate’s official website these only provide 5% of the country’s energy needs.
In a widely circulated Facebook post, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said, “clean energy for over a million homes, thousands of jobs for Gippsland – and I think it looks stunning. It’s a project the scale of which we’ve never seen. And our Government supports it. It won’t happen tomorrow. It’s a few years away. And there’s a lot of planning to do. But we want to work with the Commonwealth to get this off the ground/water.”