Australian Government announces its first offshore renewable energy areas
10 August 2022
10 August 2022
As discussed in our previous alerts (linked here and here), the OEI Act implements a regulatory regime that facilitates and regulates the development of offshore electricity infrastructure and technologies, including offshore wind, solar, wave energy projects and undersea interconnectors.
On 5 August 2022, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen announced six proposed areas in Australian Commonwealth waters for offshore renewable energy projects. This is an important next step to enable the Minister to grant developers feasibility licences to investigate and plan future offshore wind and other projects within "declared areas".
The 60-day public consultation process for the first proposed area – off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria – has commenced. Next steps and details in relation to the remaining five proposed areas will be announced in due course.
The six proposed areas are:
The Department has commenced a 60-day public consultation period on the possible effects of future offshore renewable energy projects in the Bass Strait off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria.
If the Minister is satisfied that the area is suitable for offshore renewable energy infrastructure following the consultation period, it may declare that it is a "declared area" under the OEI Act. This will enable the Minister to grant developers feasibility licences to investigate and plan future offshore wind or other projects within that "declared area".
Submissions on the Gippsland proposed area can be made through the Department's Consultation Hub, and are due by 7 October 2022.
The purpose of the public consultation is to understand the potential impacts that future offshore renewable energy projects may have on other marine users and interests in the area, including (but not limited to):
This announcement gives further clarity to all interested stakeholders regarding the areas in which offshore projects will be permitted to be developed, and marks the commencement of the formal declaration process for the Gippsland area.
In anticipation of the Minister declaring the area off the coast of Gippsland as a "declared area" under the OEI Act, developers are encouraged to prepare their feasibility licence application and consider the impacts that their potential projects may have on other marine users and interests.