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Regulating 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.

Offshore electricity infrastructure framework

The government has introduced the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 to the Australian Parliament:

The framework will regulate offshore renewable energy and electricity transmission projects. It will enable the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore electricity infrastructure in Australian Commonwealth waters.

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

The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) may be appointed to administer licences for offshore projects. The National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) will oversee ongoing operations and safety.

Consultation with other maritime users has been a priority in developing the framework. We consulted on the proposed regulatory framework in early 2020.

Exploration and infrastructure licences

The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 requires a licence for the construction and operation of offshore electricity generation and transmission infrastructure.

Subject to existing regulations, some exploration or feasibility activities can begin without a licence. This includes:

  • marine surveys
  • ocean bottom sampling
  • deployment of floating light detection
  • deployment of ranging (LiDAR) equipment commonly used to collect wind data.

Star of the South exploration activities

The government issued the Star of the South a deed of licence before the introduction of the new regulatory framework. It enables exploration in Australian Commonwealth waters off the Gippsland coast of Victoria. This is valid for 5 years with the potential to extend for another 2 years.

The exploration licence does not provide the right to build or operate an offshore wind farm. The Star of the South will require a license under the new framework before building infrastructure.

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

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

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Content ID: 67614