The federal government of Australia has opened a consultation on a new offshore wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the Hunter, a region of New South Wales, Australia.
The government said that the proposed offshore wind area, which sits alongside the Hunter, an Australian manufacturing powerhouse and home to the nation’s largest smelter, could support the decarbonization and future of onshore manufacturing powered by "cheaper, cleaner energy."
According to the government, this new renewable energy industry has the potential to create 3000-8000 jobs in Australia every year.
Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said he’s looking forward to hearing from the community about the best way offshore electricity can be harnessed in the region and is encouraging locals to engage with community discussions and online submissions.
“The world’s climate emergency is regional Australia’s jobs opportunity, and the Hunter is uniquely placed to capitalize on this,” Minister Bowen said.
“An offshore wind zone in the Hunter presents significant opportunities to create new energy sector and manufacturing jobs, drive economic growth and reduce emissions.”
“I’m encouraging residents from across the Hunter to have their say on the proposed area and what they would like to see from this offshore zone.”
According to the government, Australia has some of the best wind resources in the world. However, the country doesn’t currently have any offshore wind generation.
"The IEA classifies offshore wind as a “variable baseload technology,” which makes it closer to the capacity of gas and coal-fired power plants, than onshore wind and solar PV. For context, just one rotation of one offshore wind turbine provides as much energy as an average rooftop solar installation generates in one day, with less fluctuation than onshore wind," the government said in its statement announcing the consultation launch.
"The consultation process is an opportunity for all community members, workers, residents, industry groups and chambers of commerce, to provide feedback. Submissions will run from February 23 to April 28," the government said, adding that the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water will also facilitate community information sessions, which will be held throughout the region during the consultation period.
The Hunter is one of six priority regions around Australia with, as the government says, "world-class offshore wind potential."
The Commonwealth recently declared Gippsland off the La Trobe Valley as the first region in Australia to be home to a new offshore wind industry.
The government has previously announced a further four regions earmarked for offshore wind zones. These include the Pacific Ocean region off the Illawarra in NSW, the Southern Ocean region off Portland in Victoria, the Bass Strait region off Northern Tasmania, and the Indian Ocean region off Perth/Bunbury.