A cursory look at National Electricity Market data shows that Australia is well endowed with solar power. What we lack is large amounts of wind power to displace gas and coal in the evenings. Wind is shown in green, gas in red — very appropriate colours. With a change in the federal government (from the conservative Liberal Party to the Labor Party), we are finally seeing some decisions made about offshore wind. Progress is finally being made on Star of the South.
Ideally situated between Victoria and Tasmania, Star of the South (SOS) has been discussed for years. At last we have some progress. SOS has the potential to supply up to 20% of Victoria’s electricity needs while creating jobs and investment.
Star of the South will be situated between 7 and 25 km off the coast of Victoria, will operate for at least 30 years, and will have 2.2 GW of power capacity from its 200 turbines. This will be enough to power 1.2 million homes from the strong and consistent Bass Strait winds.
Although years away from connecting to the Victorian grid, the plan is to connect into the Latrobe Valley — this is one of the strongest grid connection points in the National Electricity Market (NEM), making use of existing infrastructure and skills in the region. It is the location of Victoria’s polluting brown coal power stations. The majority of the cabling will be underground.
Earlier this month, Star of the South was recognised as a project of national significance by the Australian government, achieving Major Project Status. This decision acknowledges the project’s contribution to the Australian, Victorian, and Gippsland economies and towards the nation’s net-zero emissions plans. The Bass Strait was declared an offshore renewable energy zone.
Star of the South CEO Charles Rattray said the declaration puts Gippsland on course to become the home of Australia’s offshore wind industry.
“With strong winds, existing grid infrastructure and a skilled workforce, Gippsland is ideally positioned to capitalise on the jobs and investment offshore wind will bring to the region,” he said. “This announcement means greater certainty for the industry, local supply chains, and communities as Australia looks to secure a clean energy future.
“Offshore wind will play a critical role in Australia’s energy system going forward — it is pleasing to receive clarity from government on the boundaries for offshore wind projects, allowing us to take the next steps and continue investing in the region.”
Star of the South is one of around 25 projects across Australia with Major Project Status.
Mr Rattray said Major Project Status will help the project navigate government approvals processes spanning several departments and jurisdictions.
The Star of the South project is in the feasibility phase, with environmental assessments currently underway to inform project planning and approvals. The first power is expected around the end of the decade. The project is majority owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners’ flagship fund, CI IV, together with Cbus Super and Australian founders.
“Studies to test the seabed’s strength and structure are planned to start from early 2023. Findings will be used to design turbine foundations suitable for the ground conditions in Bass Strait.” A project overview can be seen here. We will have to be patient, as a project this size can take 6 to 10 years to become operational.
Featured image courtesy of the Star of the South.
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