Portland offshore wind zone declared by Federal Government

Published: 8 Mar 2024



Portland offshore wind zone declared by Federal Government

8 March 2024

The Maritime Union of Australia applauds further progress towards renewable energy infrastructure projects around the Australian coastline, with the the declaration of a new offshore wind zone near Portland in Victoria. This paves the way for energy and job security in a region home to one of Australia’s largest smelters. 

The area set out for future offshore wind project development marks the third offshore wind zone declared in Australia, and lies 15 - 20 kilometres offshore and will support manufacturing in Victoria by supplying cheaper, cleaner energy.

At the announcement alongside Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, representatives of the MUA celebrated the next step towards the massive economic and social opportunities on offer through new renewable energy projects on the Australian coastline.

"The declaration of this offshore wind zone kicks off a process that will deliver and sustain many thousands of long-term and rewarding jobs for Victorian maritime workers," said the MUA's Victoria Branch Secretary, Rob Lumsden.

"The expertise and skill of MUA members has built and sustained the offshore energy sector for generations, and the new jobs on offer through offshore wind will bolster this already thriving industry of skilled seafarers, offshore workers and dockers who keep the lights on for people and businesses throughout the nation," Mr Lumsden said.

According to government analysis, the new industry will bring new job opportunities to Portland and surrounds with 1,680 jobs during construction and 840 ongoing operation jobs such as engineers, labourers, technicians, operators, riggers, divers, and administrators.

Western Victoria is well suited to offshore wind, with world-class wind resources, high-quality shipping infrastructure and an aluminium smelter that draws up to 10 percent of Victoria’s electricity.

The Department of Climate Change and Energy has assessed the Portland zone as being capable of generating up to 2.8 GW of offshore wind energy – enough to power over 2 million homes, equivalent to two-and-a-half Portland Smelters.

After extensive community consultation with local leaders, industry and community groups, the final area is 1,030 km2 – one fifth of the originally proposed zone. The zone no longer includes an area off the coast of South Australia. The declared area works around the Bonney Upwelling, Deen Maar Island and shipping routes, taking into account the environmental, cultural heritage and economic significance of these areas.

Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen MP, attended the announcement in Portland, and explained that the proposed offshore wind zone is an ideal location for offshore electricity generation because of the high speed winds in the Indian Ocean and its proximity to large energy users. The Federal Government estimates that the zone could eventually sustain up to 20GW of offshore wind capacity.

“The Southern Ocean offshore wind zone has the potential to create thousands of new, high-value jobs and help secure cleaner, cheaper more reliable energy for regional Victoria,” said Minister Bowen.

“Australia has abundant renewable energy, the cheapest form of energy, and the government is committed to helping Australians benefit from these natural resources, including offshore wind,” Mr Bowen added.

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Southern Ocean zone will open from 6 March until 2 July 2024.

During the feasibility licence stage, developers must undertake detailed environmental assessments and engage in further consultation, including how the project will coexist with shipping, tourism and fishing industries.

Construction can only begin after the feasibility stage is completed and developers have gained subsequent environmental and management plan approvals, as well as demonstrating how projects will benefit Australian industry and jobs.

The final declared zone can be found at https://www.dcceew.gov.au/energy/renewable/offshore-wind/areas/southern-ocean-region   




Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney