Address to the Australian Offshore Wind Conference
Thank you for having me today.
I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay my respects to their elders, past and present.
I’d also like to thank Dr Sali Bache for that opening address& acknowledge all other distinguished speakers and guests here today.
Today’s conference is a first for Australia – the first industry conference devoted entirely to the offshore wind industry.
Following passage of the Morrison Government’s Offshore Electricity Infrastructure legislation last year, it is now time to take the next step in building Australia’s offshore wind industry together.
Australia, like much of the world, is on a journey to carbon neutrality. But unlike other countries who just talk about targets, we’re walking the walk and achieving outcomes.
It is technology, not taxes, which will see Australia take giant leaps forward as we build our industrial future.
Australia’s emissions are already down 20 per cent, and are projected to fall by 35 per cent by 2030 – meeting and beating our Paris commitments.
The Morrison Government has a comprehensive, technology focused plan to get us to carbon neutrality by 2050.
This plan is supported by $1.3 billion of new investment in the Budget to maintain energy security, keep downward pressure on electricity prices while reducing emissions.
Critically this includes $247 million to support increased private sector investment in low emissions technologies including hydrogen, and $148.6 million to support more investment in affordable and reliable power, including the development of community microgrid projects across Australia.
Our plan stands in stark contrast with other approaches.
The Greens want decarbonisation through deindustrialisation; Labor through higher taxes. Our plan focuses on sustainable innovation which takes the Australian community with us.
The Morrison Government is acting decisively to ensure Australia can meet our goals while also delivering affordable and reliable energy and creating jobs.
We’re already seeing significant growth in offshore wind globally on the back of rapidly improving technology and falling prices.
The International Energy Agency says the global offshore wind market grew nearly 30 per cent each year between 2010 and 2018 .
They estimate the sector could become a $1 trillion industry by 2040, generating more than 420 000 TeraWatt hours of energy each year.
For context, that is over 18 times the global electricity demand today.
While Australia currently has no offshore windfarms, their deployment can be a key part of our energy future.
We know energy production from offshore wind and other emerging technologies has the potential to provide another very significant source of clean energy for Australians.
Offshore wind – while not dispatchable - offers higher capacity factors, and large, year-round generation capacity.
We also expect the offshore electricity industry to bring new business opportunities, support new businesses and create new jobs in regional and coastal communities.
For example, the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre estimates that the industry could create up to 8,000 new jobs here every year from 2030 .
Moreover, as an island continent girt by several blustery oceans and seas, Australia has the potential to be a world leader in offshore renewable energy generation.
Our government is already playing an important role in unlocking the potential of offshore wind around the country through our Offshore Electricity Infrastructure legislation.
Today, the Morrison Government is pressing down on the accelerator.
Offshore wind priority areas
Decisions made by governments in the short to medium term can impact investment decisions made by the private sector well into the future.
To support our legislation, the Morrison Government has developed draft regulations required to support a range of activities that will be crucial for the operation of offshore electricity infrastructure. These are currently out for public consultation.
But another key part of our careful policy work is to identify, assess and declare areas around Australia’s coast suitable for offshore wind development.
I’m sure you’re hoping we will announce more information on this process. When we say we want outcomes, we meant it.
So today we are doing just that. The first area to be assessed for its suitability for offshore renewable energy projects will be the Bass Strait off Gippsland right here in Victoria.
As most would agree this area has some of the world’s best offshore wind potential and its proximity to the grid makes it ideal for developing these projects.
There’s private industry interest, state government support and the ability for offshore wind operators and other users to co-exist harmoniously.
The task of identifying and assessing prospective areas involves balancing a number of factors, including but not limited to:
- suitability of conditions for offshore renewable energy production,
- industry interest and readiness to invest, and
- state government readiness onshore to accept any energy produced.
The government will be ready to start carefully assessing priority areas, starting with the coast off Gippsland, when the legislation commences in June.
Further downstream, in considering an area for declaration, a minimum 60-day public consultation process will inform the decision.
This is a critical part of ensuring that the needs of other marine users are protected, community views are accounted for, and other uses, including environmental concerns, are appropriately considered.
Once an area has been assessed and carefully considered through the declaration process, including consideration of community views and interactions with existing maritime users, applications for offshore electricity infrastructure licences in that area will begin to be accepted.
Critically, the area announced today is only the beginning not the end of this conversation.
In addition to Gippsland - we are actively looking at other areas - but we know that strong community support will be essential.
There are multiple competing users in many high potential offshore wind areas including coastal communities, fishing, shipping, environmentally protected areas, defence, to name a few.
So it’s really important to get the balance right – facilitating development while bringing communities on the journey with us.
That’s why the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources will call for submissions from industry and communities in June, with a focus on identifying other priority areas for offshore wind assessment in other States by the end of the third quarter of 2022.
Opportunities waiting to be tapped
Industry’s interest in offshore wind continues to grow across Australia and many are preparing to seize a large share of the sector’s expected significant growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Global Wind Energy Council expects the global market share of installed offshore wind capacity in the Asia Pacific to grow to 42 per cent in the coming decade.
We’re clearly gearing up and thinking ahead to make the most of this growth opportunity here in Australia.
For example, producing clean hydrogen using offshore wind has the potential to boost our growing clean hydrogen export sector.
Offshore electricity could also help turbo-charge Australian manufacturing, something our government has led the way on, including in the most recent Budget – with an additional $1 billion investment to back-in Australian manufacturing.
This builds on our initial $1.5 billion investment through the Modern Manufacturing Strategy.
Producing electricity from offshore wind could support our manufacturers be more competitive and resilient.
With growing interest from industry and with a significant number of offshore wind projects in the pipeline, we’re not far off from realising these benefits.
Fostering an enabling policy environment
Like any new or emerging sector, it is vitally important we get the development of the offshore renewable energy sector right.
Supportive policy frameworks by government give the private sector the critical signals required to pursue their investment decisions with confidence.
That’s why today’s announcement is of particular significance.
We want to help unleash the power of the private sector to turn this emerging technology into a thriving sector that underpins Australia’s industrial future.
At the same time we must ensure the development of the sector meets the expectations of our community, including our environmental values.
That’s why the Morrison Government passed laws to facilitate and regulate the development of Australia’s offshore renewable energy industry, the first of their kind in Australia.
The legislation enables the construction, installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of offshore electricity infrastructure in Commonwealth waters.
The laws have been designed to be flexible so they can adapt to technologies that may emerge in the future, allowing the industry to drive how it develops in Australia.
We wanted a strong foundation which delivers the certainty the private sector needs to spur investment in offshore windfarms and transmission projects, supporting reliable and affordable power and bringing down emissions.
Accelerating proposed projects
We expect the legislation to speed up a number of key projects already under development once it comes into force.
Star of the South, a proposed 2 gigawatt wind farm in Bass Strait off the south coast of Gippsland, is a great example.
The project has the potential to supply power to 1.2 million homes and deliver up to 20 per cent of Victoria’s electricity needs.
Thirty years of scientific data from the Bureau of Meteorology sit behind the proposed project.
Star of the South is expected to create around 2,000 direct jobs in Victoria over its lifetime, including 760 Gippsland jobs during construction and 200 ongoing local jobs once it’s up and running.
The project would invest around $8.7 billion in Victoria, including injecting an estimated $6.4 billion directly into Gippsland’s economy.
Today’s announcement is not just good news for Star of the South but for the sector more generally.
There’s also Alinta Energy’s proposed 1,000 MW windfarm off the coast of Portland in Victoria.
This $4 billion project is expected to connect to the grid through Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter, Victoria’s biggest electricity consumer.
This will mean the smelter could be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. A massive win for the business, local community and our environment.
Another project in the pipeline is OceanEx’s proposed 2 gigawatt windfarm off the coast of Newcastle.
OceanEx estimates 3,000 direct jobs for one project alone during construction, and around 300 ongoing local jobs. This would be a clean energy game changer for local manufacturing.
The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure legislation will also support undersea electricity transmission projects.
It will enable Tasmania, for example, to share its rich energy resources with the mainland via Marinus Link, the proposed 1.5 gigawatt capacity electricity inter-connector that will extend across Bass Strait.
The Morrison Government is working closely with the Government of Tasmania to deliver Marinus Link.
As recently as Sunday, the Government announced we are investing a further $75 million, on top of a previous $66 million already invested, to progress the Marinus Link to a Final Investment Decision and through the next stages of planning, design and approvals.
Along with the Battery of the Nation pumped hydro storage project, these initiatives will enable the export of an additional 1,500 megawatts of reliable renewable capacity to the mainland, improving energy security, keeping electricity prices low and reducing our emissions.
They will also provide a massive economic opportunity for Tasmania and Victoria, with 2,800 jobs and over $7 billion in economic activity to be created .
Minimising project impacts
A key principle of our legislation is to ensure that the offshore electricity infrastructure sector can co-exist with other offshore industries and users.
The legislation includes measures to ensure the impacts of offshore electricity projects on other maritime users are identified and managed.
For example, licence holders will consult with existing users impacted by a particular project. Consultation is also required throughout the life of projects, as impacts may change over time.
Community consultation is of paramount importance when delivering projects like these, and that’s why we have ensured consultation is a mandatory element of the process.
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) and the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) are the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator and the Offshore Infrastructure Registrar respectively under the legislation.
These agencies have extensive experience in applying regulatory processes in the offshore environment and are best placed to support industry and regulate the offshore electricity infrastructure sector.
Additionally, environmental protections will be put in place to protect marine life, for example migratory birds and whales, and any other potential ecological impacts.
Other elements of the regulatory framework will be introduced over time, to the extent necessary so the industry can operate in line with community expectations.
The Morrison Government will always remain committed to reducing unnecessary red and green tape.
Ultimately, our goal is to implement only essential regulation to support the industry to invest, evolve and thrive, while getting the balance right in protecting the environment, other users and workers.
By leading the development of this industry, the Morrison Government is committed to making Australia a world leader in offshore renewable energy.
Australia has abundant, high-quality offshore renewable energy potential just waiting to be unleashed.
The Morrison Government is ensuring industry has a pathway forward, all for the benefit of Australian energy consumers.
Our government has put in place a regulatory framework that will drive private sector investment and development in the offshore wind sector.
Our legislation gives industry the certainty it needs to invest in projects that will support the economy.
All because we know a successful offshore wind sector will support reliable and affordable energy supplies and create thousands of jobs for Australians, while reducing our emissions.
This is a big step, and only one of many.
What our nation absolutely does not need, and what would ultimately have a regressive effect, is a Labor imposed carbon tax by stealth which Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen – who also happens to be the architect of that other disaster, their retiree tax - can’t get enough of.
The Morrison Government is pressing ahead with building a strong foundation for the offshore renewable energy sector in Australia and it has been an absolute pleasure to speak to you all today.
Now, let’s get on with it.