The entity set up to deliver Australia’s first offshore wind farm – and the largest yet in the Southern Hemisphere – has appointed a new CEO, as site tests begin off the south coast of Gippsland, Victoria.
The Star of the South said on Thursday that former Dong Energy executive Casper Frost Thorhauge had been appointed to head up the massive project, that proposes to develop a 2000MW wind farm in Commonwealth waters 8-13 kilometres offshore from Port Albert.
Thorhauge, a statement said, had the experience required to “take the project into the next phase,” inlcuding developing and delivering offshore wind projects in Europe and Asia – most recently the 900MW Greater Changhua 1 and 2a Offshore Wind Farms in Taiwan.
He has also held senior management roles and board positions with Danish energy giant Dong, where he is said to have successfully led a number of offshore wind projects through their development phase totalling more than $10 billion.
The Danish connection follows the December 2017 linking up of project leader, Melbourne-based Offshore Energy, with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, which has more than €5 billion ($A7.79 billion) under management for investment in renewables, including two other offshore wind farms.
The Star of the South, while still in the very early stages of development, in March got the green light from federal government for a site exploration, and this week deployed two wind measuring devices, or floating LiDARs, and a wave buoy, which will measure conditions at sea for several years.
If the project goes ahead, the plan is to install an undersea cable to link the wind farm to existing transmission instrastructure at the nearby Latrobe Valley, Victoria’s coal power generation hub.
All told, the 200 turbines promise to generate up to one-and-a-half times the energy of the now-closed Hazelwood coal-fired power station.
“This project has the potential to power hundreds of thousands of Victorian homes, providing a reliable and consistent source of energy, while creating jobs and investment for Gippsland,” Thorauge said in a statement.
“The Star of the South is ramping up with site investigations starting to collect valuable data to inform early project planning.”
“We’re pleased to be supporting local Gippsland workers during this early development phase and look forward to more opportunities to invest in the region as we continue our studies.”
Other investigations underway include seabed studies to confirm sea depths and conditions, as well as baseline environmental surveys for marine life and birds.
Local workers are also being trained to service the wind and wave monitoring equipment while it’s out at sea, marking a first for the Australian labour market.
Specialist wind and wave contractor Akrocean shipped the equipment to Australia from Europe last month, with support from local supplier TEK-Ocean who is assisting with equipment installation and ongoing maintenance works.
Star of the South said soil testing to understand ground conditions in the area would also get underway next year, and the results of this and other investigations would help confirm the project’s feasibility and inform early planning.