Australia’s Clean Energy Push Sees Second Offshore Wind Zone Unlocked

The Australian Government has officially declared an offshore wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Hunter Region of New South Wales.

In a statement, the government said the move would pave the way for energy and job security in a region that has helped to power Australia for generations.

This is the second officially declared Australian offshore wind zone – and being in a heartland of heavy industry, will support future onshore manufacturing and energy security in NSW for decades to come.

The strong, consistent winds off the coast, along with the region’s skilled energy and manufacturing workforce, make the Hunter an ideal location for an offshore wind industry, the government said.

The final area was declared after two months of public consultation with a smaller footprint than the originally proposed zone – balancing the views of the local community, local industry and sea users.

The declared area stretches over 1,800 km2 between Swansea and Port Stephens and could generate up to 5GW of wind energy, enough to power an estimated 4.2 million homes and power local industries into the future.

The revised zone will be 20 kilometers from the coast in the north and over 35 kilometers from the coast in the south.

Game Changer

These changes enable continued safe management of shipping and other sea industries. Offshore infrastructure will also be limited to a height of 260 meters to address aviation safety.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the declaration was another big step for Australia to reap the huge benefits of offshore wind.

“The Hunter is undergoing significant economic change, and the prospect of creating new job opportunities for decades to come through a new offshore wind industry is a game changer,” Minister Bowen said.

“Today’s declaration opens the door for a new industry in the Hunter, which could create over 3,000 construction jobs and another 1,560 ongoing jobs.

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Hunter area will open from 8 August until 14 November 2023.

During the feasibility licence stage, developers will be required to undertake further consultation on individual proposals, including detailed environmental assessments and impacts on other marine users.

Construction can only begin after the feasibility stage is completed, and environmental and management plan approvals are gained.