- Our Union
- Our Industries
Published: 19 Apr 2023
Right now, the Commonwealth government is holding a consultation on declaring an ‘Offshore Renewable Energy Area’ off the coast of Newcastle, running from Port Stephens south to Norah Head on the Central Coast.
· This is an incredible opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter to build the renewable energy infrastructure we need to tackle the climate crisis, and create thousands of good union jobs.
· We have a skilled workforce, great electricity grid connections and port infrastructure, a location close to large electricity loads, and strong and consistent winds that blow at times that solar power isn’t available.
· Offshore wind developers from Norway, Denmark, Spain and France have said they would like to build floating offshore wind projects here.
Energy Minister Chris Bowen says the Hunter offshore renewable energy area has the capacity to create 4,800 construction jobs and 2,400 ongoing jobs, and 8 GigaWatts of power generation.
· In Denmark, a focus on local jobs, local manufacturing capacity and tripartite planning that includes unions, industry, and government creates over 9,000 jobs per GigaWatt.
· The Hunter and Central Coast could host 10 GigaWatts of offshore wind turbines with minimal grid upgrades.
· Newcastle could make and supply renewable energy components for Australia and the South Pacific.
Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we are also asking for development of renewable energy to be given priority over other uses of the Hunter and Central Coast offshore area, such as for defence exercises or gas exploration.
We are asking everyone in the community to participate in the consultation and show their support for the Declaration of this Offshore Renewable Energy Area, before 27 April.
Make your submission to the Hunter Offshore Renewable Energy Area Consultation
Go to: https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-hunter/have-your-say
Below are the questions the government is asking about the proposed Hunter Offshore Renewable Energy Area, with suggested answers. If you have time, please add your own commentary or use your own words.
Which of the following best describes your standpoint on the proposed area?
Environment: Please outline any benefits, issues or concerns related to the environment.
Building offshore wind projects will help reduce carbon emissions causing climate change, which is the greatest environmental threat we face.
Community and onshore transmission: Please outline any benefits, issues or concerns.
To ensure a just transition for energy workers and communities the Minister must require that renewable energy projects in the Area:
The government must build a publicly owned common user port terminal for construction and maintenance, and publicly owned transmission infrastructure from the grid to shared offshore connection points.
Fishing: Please outline any benefits, issues or concerns related to recreational or commercial fishing.
The floating turbines may provide habitat for fish and other sea life, and could improve recreational fishing. Recreational fishers must be allowed to fish within the boundaries of offshore wind farms (as is the case in the USA and UK) and as close as possible to wind turbines.
Visual impacts: Please outline any concerns or regard for the visual impact.
I am not concerned about the visual impact of wind turbines.
Other: Please outline any other benefits, issues or concerns.
We are concerned that about 900km2 of the proposed Area is more than 200m deep, which will increase the technical challenge and cost of offshore wind projects, and could impact electricity bills.
We ask the Minister to increase the available area less than 200m deep, by extending the Area 25km to the south (while keeping 15km offshore) and to explore any mitigation measures that could reduce the proposed 46km exclusion zone for the RAAF base.
Map of the proposed Renewable Energy Area
Interactive map accessible here.