Australia has large potential for new offshore wind farms, report finds

Offshore wind farm turbines in ocean

New research has shown Australia has high quality and abundant offshore wind resources near existing transmission grids, not currently being harnessed by the country.

The report from the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre said Australia has failed to capitalise on significant offshore wind capacity, despite the International Energy Agency nominating it as one of the ‘big three’ likely sources of global renewable energy alongside solar and onshore wind.

The wind energy industry is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the world, with rapid growth expected to continue to at least 2030. The United States and Europe have the largest concentration of wind energy production, with India and China both experiencing rapid growth in the industry. Wind currently accounts for around just 2% of Australia’s energy sourcing.

Offshore wind turbines are able to be significantly larger in size than their onshore counterparts, but as such do have a higher cost factor. Offshore wind farms generally have a higher potential for power generation than onshore wind and even solar, as faster and more consistent winds allow for a stable energy generation.

Once built, the power generated by wind can be provided cheaper than non-renewable sources due to its abundance and affordability after the initial costs of construction. An uptake in renewable resources is likely to see energy prices drop so long as stability can be achieved.

The report located good sites for offshore wind farms in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and West Australia, close to transmission grids and with high capacity factors. More than 2,000 GW could potentially be installed, far in excess of the total electricity generation. Just 600 GW of wind energy was installed around the world by the end of 2018.

There are currently 10 offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of 25GW in development in Australia, all at an early stage. The most advanced is the $10bn Star of the South – a 2.2GW windfarm planned for the sea off of South Gippsland.

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