Australia’s Neglected Technology: Offshore Wind Farms - a Common Sight in Europe
What is the meaning of offshore wind farm?
Offshore wind power or offshore wind energy is the use of wind farms constructed in bodies of water, usually in the ocean, to harvest wind energy to generate electricity. A wind turbine turns wind energy into electricity using the aerodynamic force from the rotor blades, which work like an airplane wing or helicopter rotor blade.
I quote from the Maritime Executive Report (link in reference)
“Offshore wind farms are an increasingly common sight overseas. But Australia has neglected the technology, despite the ample wind gusts buffeting much of our coastline.
New research released on July 25, 2021 confirms Australia’s offshore wind resources offer vast potential both for electricity generation and new jobs. In fact, wind conditions off southern Australia rival those in the North Sea, between Britain and Europe, where the offshore wind industry is well established.
More than ten offshore wind farms are currently proposed for Australia. If built, their combined capacity would be greater than all coal-fired power plants in the nation
Offshore wind projects can provide a win-win-win for Australia: creating jobs for displaced fossil fuel workers, replacing energy supplies lost when coal plants close, and helping Australia become a renewable energy superpower.”
Offshore wind would complement other forms of electricity generation to create a more reliable system and deliver cheaper power prices.
Finally in 2020...
...the “Star of the South Company Melbourne” received an exploration licence from the Australian Government to undertake site investigations off the coast of Gippsland. But...it typically takes 6-10 years to develop and build an offshore wind project.
The offshore wind farm is proposed to be located 7-25km off the south coast of Gippsland near towns such as Port Albert, McLoughlins Beach and Woodside Beach.
Turbines would be installed out at sea and spaced apart to allow room for boats to navigate through. The plan has been to link the wind farm to existing transmission infrastructure at the nearby Latrobe Valley – Victoria’s coal power generation hub and home to the now-closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.
Developed to its full potential - if it goes ahead - this wind farm would generate up to 2.2GW of new capacity. This means powering around 1.2 Million homes across the state of Victoria/Australia.
Let’s hope that this is only the beginning for other proposed sites to be explored and developed with full support of our Government.
Winds of change
“The Conversation Australia” (link in reference) conducted a research and found offshore wind could help Australia become a renewable energy “superpower”.
As Australia seeks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, sectors such as transport will need increased supplies of renewable energy. Clean energy will also be needed to produce hydrogen for export and to manufacture “green” steel and aluminium.
Offshore wind can also support a “just transition” or in other words, ensure fossil fuel workers and their communities are not left behind in the shift to a low-carbon economy.
The research also found offshore wind could produce around 8,000 jobs under the scenario used in the study - almost as many as those employed in Australia’s offshore oil and gas sector. Many skills used in the oil and gas industry, such as those in construction, safety and mechanics, overlap with those needed in offshore wind energy. Coal workers could also be re-employed in offshore wind manufacturing, port assembly and engineering.
If we get this right, offshore wind can play a crucial role in Australia’s energy transition and restore our bad reputation when it comes to Climate Change.
As we know, burning coal causes global warming, air pollution and health problems. Because our energy system is largely powered by coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, Australian per capita emissions remain among the highest in the world. No other developed country has such a polluting energy system.
While we cannot stop global warming overnight, or even over the next several decades, we can slow the rate and limit the amount of global warming with new renewable energy solutions.
The Conversation Australia, July 2021 (viewed 01.08.2021)
Maritime Executive Report, July 2021 (viewed 01.08.2021)
RenewEconomy, June 2021 (viewed 01.08.2021)
Star of theSouth, Melbourne (viewed 01.08.2021)