Victoria’s Offshore Wind Takes A Blow

In December, the Victorian State Government released the Offshore Wind Energy Implementation Statement 3. The Statement is designed to provide both investors and industry with a level of certainty to build offshore wind energy projects in Victoria. In recent weeks however, this has been impacted by the Federal Government applying an agreement protecting wetlands associated with the Port of Hastings.

The Port of Hastings was identified in the Statement as the most suitable port for assembly purposes. However, this has recently been rejected by the Federal Government due to the potential of environmental impact on areas around the port that are protected under the Ramsar convention. Australia is a signatory to this convention, which protects listed wetlands of international importance, with Westernport Bay listed for protection. Resolution to this major factor will be required in order for the project to progress.

The Statement itself discusses numerous other factors and how they anticipate these will be managed. The procurement stage, including an expression of interest, a Request for Proposal and contract negotiations, was originally to be finalised by late 2026. In light of the environmental restrictions on the Port of Hastings, this may need to be adjusted.

The Statement notes that the project development and planning phase can be up to 5 years in duration, but that Victorian workers should be well placed for the future due to the state’s first mover status. The construction, manufacturing and infrastructure phase then follows, with ongoing operations and maintenance then running for the lifetime of the windfarm. Electricians feature in each phase of these projects, with the exception of the manufacturing and assembly phase.

To further support this, the Victorian Government is creating the Victorian Energy Jobs Plan (VEJP). To better understand the workforce opportunities and challenges for the energy sector, submissions from stakeholders will be sought early 2024, with the release of the plan scheduled for late 2024.

The Offshore Wind Energy Implementation Statement 3 is available for review on the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Change website. Ports and environmental requirements should be headlining discussions in the coming weeks and months.