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Establishing offshore renewable energy infrastructure

Australia has many areas that may be suitable for offshore renewable energy infrastructure.

We regulate offshore renewable energy infrastructure in Australian Commonwealth waters under the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021. See the associated Regulatory Levies Act and Consequential Amendments Act.

Australian Commonwealth waters start 3 nautical miles from the coastline and extend to the boundary of Australia’s exclusive economic zone.

The Acts enable the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore electricity infrastructure. They outline how and where infrastructure projects for renewable energy generation or transmission can operate.

These projects include:

  • offshore wind and solar farms
  • wave energy plants
  • undersea interconnectors.

Enabling the offshore renewable energy industry supports the Australian Government’s aim to:

  • reduce emissions from the electricity sector
  • increase affordable electricity supply
  • create jobs.

Licensing offshore renewable energy projects

Companies wanting to undertake offshore infrastructure projects will need a licence:

  • Commercial licences allow offshore renewable energy infrastructure projects for up to 40 years.
  • Transmission and infrastructure licences permit installation and operation of undersea interconnectors to transmit electricity.
  • Research and demonstration (R&D) licences enable short-term projects (up to 10 years) to trial and test new offshore renewable energy technologies.

You will need a feasibility licence before applying for a commercial licence. Feasibility licences permit the holder to assess the feasibility of a project for up to 7 years.

You can apply for a feasibility or R&D licence in an area after the Minister declares it suitable for offshore renewable electricity infrastructure. Transmission licences do not need to be in a declared area.

The Offshore Infrastructure Registrar administers licences for offshore renewable energy and transmission projects. Staff within the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) assist the registrar.

Declaring suitable areas

Declaring suitable areas for offshore renewable energy infrastructure is a ministerial decision. Our department advises the Minister on suitable areas in consultation with:

  • other Australian Government departments and agencies
  • state and territory governments
  • industry stakeholders
  • local communities
  • the Australian public.

Considerating a specific area for declaration requires a 60-day public consultation process. It will take into account factors including existing marine users.

You can propose a potential area for declaration by completing the online nomination form.

Developing a management plan

Companies applying for a licence need to submit a management plan to the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator.

The regulator sits within the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA). It oversees work health and safety, infrastructure integrity, environmental management and financial security of offshore infrastructure activities.

Your management plan details how your project will operate, including:

  • work, health and safety
  • outcomes of environmental assessments and conditions of approvals
  • plans for construction, installation, commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning
  • your plans for interacting and consulting with other marine users
  • decommissioning cost estimate.

Content will vary according to the licence and type of project.

Your project will also need a referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

You should engage with the regulator early in your project planning.

Consulting with the public

Our department consulted on offshore electricity infrastructure fees, levies and licences. Submissions closed Friday 22 April 2022.

We consulted on the proposed regulatory framework in early 2020.

Read more

Contact us

If you are interested in further details on the framework email offshorerenewables@industry.gov.au

Last updated: 17 June 2022

Content ID: 67614