Wind power gathers pace and scale in Australia

Offshore wind power

Australian developers are turning their sights to the seas and looking to realise offshore wind capabilities. More than a dozen prospective projects identified with the introduction of the federal Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill late last year that unlocks opportunities.

One area designated a Renewable Energy Zone has already generated interest in seven offshore wind farms.

The wheels are already in motion with the southern Australia state of Victoria’s proposed 2.2GW Star of the South. It’s destined be one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world and a first for Australia.

The Star of the South wind farm will on completion connect to the main transmission lines on land, eventually filling the gap left by the 2028 closure of the Yallourn coal-fired power station.

Construction could commence around 2025 and the offshore wind farm be generating full power by 2030.

It’s a strong start for Victoria’s government which recently announced a massive target for offshore wind that will revolutionise the energy industry in Australia and generate thousands of new jobs:

At least 2 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2032, with generation beginning in 2028.

4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035

9 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2040.

Studies confirm offshore wind blows at different times to onshore wind and this, coupled with rooftop PV and solar farms throughout Victoria, paves the way for 24-hour renewable power for the state.

“This is a revolutionary announcement,” John Grimes commented, “Exactly the sort of leadership we desperately need at a national level.”

The wind industry has in recent years powered ahead with the commissioning of a series of utility scale wind farms. Australia now boasts ten wind farms with a generating capacity greater than 200MW, all of which are located on the East Coast.

Projects in today’s pipeline are set to eclipse all others. Among the top five onshore wind power projects is a 800-1,000MW project scheduled for completion in 2024 and $1.5 billion 800MW Energy Hub which proposes up to 195 wind turbines, a mighty 1,200MW Forest Wind Farm and 1,026MW, 180 turbine Wind Farm.

Along with others in development these will add 6,926MW in capacity, enough to power more than two million homes.

A series of other mega projects are in the pipeline: somewhere between conception, drawing board and construction there are more than 60 wind projects slated for the next five years with a total value of $33 billion, according to Rystad.

Growth spurt: Australia now boasts a pipeline of near trillion-dollar portfolio of large-scale renewable projects spanning not just onshore and offshore wind but also solar PV, hydrogen electrolysers and storage.

Prominent market analyst Rystad Energy identifies nearly 1,300 projects involving 600 different companies that amount to 400GW new capacity and are worth around $830 billion. That’s well beyond the amount of energy needed to supply the nation and paves the way for Australia’s evolution as a global energy superpower and exporter of renewable hydrogen and ammonia.

Among the bigger developments taking shape is Neoen’s mighty 400MW Western Downs solar farm in Queensland and its 412MW wind farm at Goyder South in South Australia, which will be the country’s biggest grid-connected wind, solar and battery hybrid project.

Meanwhile the Victorian Big Battery, which is Australia’s biggest, came online late last year: Neoen’s 300MW / 450MWh lithium-ion battery unlocks an additional 250MW of interconnection capacity and will supply grid services such as frequency response in the main grid.

In Western Australia Fortescue Future Industries has announced plans for a 5.4GW renewables project to power its Pilbara mining operations. The grand plan for the Uaroo Renewable Energy Hub include 340 wind turbines, >2GW and 3,333MW solar farm with a battery energy storage system of 9,100 MWh.

AUSTRALIA THE RENEWABLE ENERGY SUPERPOWER

In early May the Smart Energy Council is staging its 60th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Sydney.

We cordially invite anyone with a stake in the renewable energy industry to join us to learn more about Australia’s incredible journey toward becoming a renewable energy generation and exporting superpower

What delegates can expect

• Insights into industry performance, trends and projections from 120 esteemed presenters

• The latest in solar energy, battery storage, renewable hydrogen, electric vehicles, VPPs, DERs and installer requirements (with CPD points)

• A look at leading manufacturers and suppliers’ existing and emerging technologies

• Participants will gain resources that strengthen their position in the market, by unlocking opportunities that deliver ongoing business value

Visit www.smartenergyexpo.org

A shift in sentiment and change of leadership?

Australia is lucky enough to be home to some of the world’s best solar and wind resources and everyday Australians are flocking to rooftop PV. Individual states have set renewables ambitions and climate targets that are helping build a smarter, cleaner, 21st century energy system

But blindly ignoring the need to contain global warming caused by carbon emissions is Australia’s conservative federal government that has just announced additional multi-million-dollar investments in new gas projects. They are out of step with the community.

A recent Essential national poll, commissioned by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, found the majority of Australians are turning away from fossil fuels and support coal closure.

60% of Australians think that coal companies and governments should work together to close Australia’s coal-burning power stations as soon as possible, and 55% of Australians believe coal power companies should close all their coal power stations and replace them with renewable energy as soon as possible.

It’s worth reporting here that controversial carbon capture is not going to plan for the Gorgon CCS project which during 2020-2021 stored just 2.26 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, falling well short of the 4 million tonne target and failing to meet the condition of Chevron’s approvals for the Gorgon LNG project. Among the listed problems are sand-clogging CCS equipment and regulator-imposed restrictions on carbon dioxide injection rates.

Australia’s conservative government strongly supports carbon capture and continues to plough millions of dollars into failed projects.

But a federal election looms and indications are voters have had enough of the nine-year reign of the conservative government with its strong pro-fossil fuel agenda, climate science denial and renewable energy roadblocks.

A new poll of 21,000 Australians has revealed the prime minister is now the nation’s least trustworthy politician, and leads a nation that is losing trust in government.

The Roy Morgan poll found the majority of the least trusted politicians are on the ruling conservative party cabinet, including the Deputy Prime Minister, Defence Minister, current and former Energy and Emissions Ministers.

Meanwhile prominent Labor politicians featured strongly on the ‘most trusted’ scale, with the federal Labor leader taking second spot, which bodes well for a change of federal government with a more realistic plan to address climate change by adopting emissions targets and encouraging more renewables into the energy mix.

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