Star of the South offshore wind project starts environmental approvals | RenewEconomy

Star of the South offshore wind project starts environmental approvals

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What could be Australia’s first offshore wind farm takes a step closer to reality, as project commences environmental approval process.

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Australia’s first, and rather large, offshore wind project is a step closer after developers began the process of seeking environmental approvals from the federal government.

The Star of the South project had referred its Environmental Effects Statement to the federal department of the environment, and the Victorian government, representing a key milestone for the massive offshore wind project.

The progress was welcomed by environmental group Friends of the Earth, which said the project had a huge potential to increase Victoria’s supply of zero-emissions electricity.

“The Star of the South offshore wind farm would be a game changer for new renewable energy supply and taking action on climate change in Victoria. It will create thousands of jobs and mark the beginning of a whole new sector” Friends of the Earth spokesperson Pat Simons said.

“Building landmark renewable energy projects like Star of the South could be key to the post-Covid recovery effort, creating local jobs, bolstering domestic electricity supply while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

The project also developers announced that they had received approval from the federal government to commence technical and environmental studies off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria, where the wind farm is proposed to be built.

The licence granted by the federal government will allow the project to commence offshore wind monitoring, as well as studies of the seabed and surrounding marine environment.

The studies will help the developers assess the viability of the project, as well as determine what impact the project may have on the coastal ecosystems.

The federal and Victorian governments will now consider how the environmental approvals for the project will proceed. The project will also seek a commercial licence from the federal government to construct and operate the project.

The 2,000MW wind farm would become Australia’s largest, and the first offshore wind farm to be constructed in Australian waters. The project will have an estimated cost of around $10 billion once completed and would create as many as 2,000 jobs during the construction phase.

“We’re excited to start the next phase of our work – we’ve done a lot of background studies and look forward to getting out there and further understanding the marine environment,” Star of the South CEO Andy Evans said.

“While it’s still early days for the project, these crucial investigations will help us move forward and understand how we might progress an offshore wind project in Australia.”

“We look forward to working with government, stakeholders and local communities in Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley throughout our investigations.”

The Star of the South is still in its early stages but has begun making progress in the initial consultation and planning processes for the project.

In March, the project revealed that it awarded a contract to engineering firm WSP Australia to help design the project’s onshore transmission infrastructure requirements.

The ABC has reported that the project has presented three possible options for where the transmission network infrastructure may be constructed.

The project will likely see underground cables that then run under the sea to link the project with existing grid connection infrastructure in the Latrobe Valley.

The project may also be able to draw upon existing infrastructure within the region that forms part of the Basslink interconnector that links Victoria and Tasmania.

Source: Star of the South

The Star of the South project is being progressed in partnership with Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, which is also looking to invest in offshore projects across Europe, Asia and North America.

“We welcome the Commonwealth Government’s decision and we look forward to continue investigating the opportunities for offshore wind in Australia”, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partner Michael Hannibal said.

Friends of the Earth added that projects like the Star of the South will be key to supporting strong jobs growth in Victoria, and could help lead the state’s economic recovery.

“With the right government support this could be the first of many jobs-rich offshore wind projects in Australia and it’s important we get it right,” Simons added.

“Building landmark renewable energy projects like Star of the South could be key to the post-Covid recovery effort, creating local jobs, bolstering domestic electricity supply while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

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