A new Australian company called Nexsphere has unveiled plans to build an “over-the-horizon” wind farm of up to 1GW off the coast of north-east Tasmania, the latest in a string of offshore wind proposals emerging after the passage of legislation in federal parliament.
The Bass Offshore Wind Energy project will be sized between 500MW and 1,000MW, at least in its first stage, and could be expanded to 2GW or more in later stages.
The project has its eyes on the big green hydrogen and green ammonia facilities planned by the likes of Fortescue, Woodside, and Origin for Bell Bay, as well as the potential to export electricity through the Marinus Link to Victoria if that goes ahead.
Nexsphere was previously known as Brookvale Energy, and its project is one of more than a dozen offshore wind projects that have emerged in the past year or two, including most recently Alinta’s $4 billion proposal for a 1GW offshore wind farm that could power the Portland aluminium smelter in Victoria.
CEO Glen Kierse says the first stage of the BOWE project would comprise around 35 large turbines that would be located “over the horizon”, meaning they could not be seen from land.
The original idea was to locate the project off the coast of Burnie, but they will be now located around 20-30 kms from shore, with the transmission link to connect at George Town, close to proposed Marinus links and hydrogen projects.
“The strength of offshore wind in Bass Strait is well known. Globally, offshore wind is a significant and growing part of the future for renewable energy,” Kierse said in a statement.
“With BOWE, Tasmania can deliver major green energy solutions to its people and businesses – including hydrogen generation – as well as position itself to export green energy to the mainland.”
Nexsphere says it will make further announcement regarding timelines and development, including strategic and capital partners, in coming weeks. It plans to start consultation with local communities and businesses over the project early in the new year.
Its web page says a full feasibility study will begin next year with the wind farm coming online from late 2026, which seems an optimistic timetable given that the 2,000MW Star of the South project in Victoria, regarded as the country’s most advanced offshore wind project, is looking at a 2028 start.
“We’ve been at this for a few years already, so there is a lot of work already done,” Kierse told RenewEconomy. “Our view is that we should be committing to build these things sooner rather than later.
“We have multiple options – it is not just a NEM or a hydrogen play,” he said.
On the cost of offshore wind, Kierse said it was clear that prices were falling quickly. “Just the scale of the production going on globally, the cost will continue to improve.”
Kierse said BOWE will provide a major economic boost to northern Tasmania that includes ongoing construction and operations jobs, a corporate headquarters, research opportunities and marine engineering roles.