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Offshore renewable energy

Offshore renewable energy includes offshore wind farms, wave and tidal power as well as emerging technologies like ocean thermal energy.

Developing the offshore renewable energy sector supports the Australian Government’s objective to deliver a reliable, secure and affordable energy system through:

  • helping to grow new sources of energy supply
  • providing clean and efficient technology
  • ensuring the energy sector is well regulated

Offshore renewable energy generation can:

  • offer large, year-round generation capacity
  • provide benefits to the electricity network
  • lessen visual impacts on the landscape, compared to other energy generation options
  • establish new employment opportunities
  • attract significant investment in Australia’s coastal economies

Developing a regulatory framework

Australia does not have legislation to support the full development of offshore renewable energy projects. Interest in offshore renewable energy projects in Australia is increasing as technology improves and costs reduce.

To enable future investment, the government is developing a regulatory framework. This will enable the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore renewable energy projects.

The Minister with responsibility for energy matters will make all licensing decisions under the framework. This includes the granting of licences.

The government has proposed the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) will operate as the Offshore Energy Regulator and National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) as the associated Registrar.

The government has committed $4.8 million dollars to delivering the regulatory framework. The funding supports:

  • regulations
  • policy
  • regulatory functions
  • initial licence application processes

It also includes funds for NOPSEMA and NOPTA it develop their new roles. It will provide separation from their existing cost-recovered functions.

The framework will also consider options to enable installation and protection of electricity transmission infrastructure. The framework will apply from 3 nautical miles from the coast out into Australia’s exclusive economic zone.

A broad range of industry sectors use our offshore areas, as well as public recreational use.  

Consultation with maritime people is an important part of developing the regulatory framework. We formally consulted on the proposed regulatory framework early in 2020. Stakeholder feedback indicated overwhelming support to continue developing the regulatory framework.

Exploration licence

The government previously provided a deed of licence for an offshore wind farm project to facilitate exploration. This licence was issued prior to the regulatory framework now under development. Find out about the Star of the South.

The licence area is located in Australian Commonwealth waters about 8 to 13 kilometres off the Gippsland coast in Victoria. The licence is valid for 5 years with the potential to extend for another 2 years.

During the term of the licence, activities will include assessing wind resources and sea bed conditions. This assessment will inform a wind farm proposal.

Before exploration activity can commence, the licence requires:

  • further approvals, including environmental approvals
  • community and industry consultation

This licence doesn’t provide the right to construct or operate an offshore wind farm.

The proposed offshore renewable energy infrastructure legislation will leverage existing regulations to authorise early stage exploration activities. This includes the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

This approach avoids imposing any additional regulatory obligations.

It ensures other users of the marine area have an opportunity to comment on early exploration activities without additional regulatory burden. It also prioritises protecting the environment.

Activities that can commence without an offshore renewable energy infrastructure licence include exploration or feasibility activities such as:

  • marine surveys
  • ocean bottom sampling
  • FLIDAR (Floating Light Detection and Ranging)

This means exploration or feasibility activities currently and in the future are capable of being performed. This is dependent on compliance with regulations in force at that time.

You can get involved by visiting the Star of the South consultation website.

Locations under exploration

Location Co-ordinate system

Decimal degrees

Degrees, minutes, seconds

A

38.62077°S

147.025457°E

38° 37ˈ14.7822ˈˈS

147° 1ˈ 31.6446ˈˈE

B

38.6903°S

147.151595°E

38° 41ˈ 25.0908ˈˈS

147° 9ˈ 5.7414ˈˈE

C

38.873784°S

146.925725°E

38° 52ˈ 25.6224ˈˈS

146° 55ˈ 32.6094ˈˈE

D

38.917482°S

146.829525037°E

38° 55ˈ 2.9346ˈˈS

146° 49ˈ 46.2894ˈˈE

E

38.833380°S

146.736079278°E

38° 50ˈ 0.1674ˈˈS

146° 44ˈ 9.8838ˈˈE

Total area = 496 km2

View a map of the exploration licence on the Star of the South consultation website.

Read more

The government announced the approval of the exploration licence in March 2019.

Contact us

If you are interested in further details on the framework, upcoming consultation or how to participate in the scheme:

 

Last updated: 2 February 2021

Content ID: 67614