Illawarra Offshore Renewable Energy Update

Published: 9 Oct 2023


Support Offshore Wind in the Illawarra:

Our Jobs, Our industry, Our Coast

Printable leaflet here.

Right now, the Commonwealth Government is holding a consultation on declaring an ‘Offshore Renewable Energy Area’ in the Ocean off the coast of the Illawarra.

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 Wednesday 15 November.

  • This is an incredible opportunity for Illawarra workers and our entire community to build the renewable energy infrastructure we need to create thousands of good union jobs and meet our climate obligations at the same time.
  • Offshore wind will provide the renewable energy to keep Illawarra manufacturing going and allow the furnaces at BlueScope to keep making the steel we need. This means an economic injection not just into Port Kembla but all the small business and communities that depend on well paying union jobs that we all know lead to stronger local economy.
  • 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.
  • Floating turbines act as Fish Aggregating Devices and could improve fishing.
  • Climate change and the heating of oceans is the greatest threat to ocean life.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen says the Illawarra offshore renewable energy area has the capacity to create 2,500 construction jobs and 1,250 ongoing jobs. It will also require hundreds of thousands of tons of steel. Let’s make it our steel!

The urgency of injecting clean energy into our grid and industry means that we cannot afford to let this opportunity go by and we call on Minister Bowen to prioritise the area off our coast for wind power generation, it must be given the greatest priority and not be constrained by other departments such as defence.

Make a submission – Before Wednesday 15 November 2023

Go to:

Below are the questions the government is asking about the proposed Pacific Ocean of Illawarra 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?

Click ‘Supportive’

Environment: Please outline any benefits, issues or concerns related to the environment.

Building offshore wind projects will help reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change, which is the greatest environmental threat we face. Global temperatures are at record levels and signs of the climate crisis are everywhere. We have to act now to reduce emissions from electricity generation.

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:

  • Provide secure, quality, union jobs
  • Minimum apprenticeships ratios and training and transition opportunities for energy workers
  • Maximise Australian manufacturing for offshore wind, including wind turbine components, cables, and vessels
  • Provide benefits for First Nations people
  • Require the use of Regulated Australian Vessels with Navigation Act qualifications for crew.

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.

Climate change and the heating of the oceans are a much greater threat to fish stocks than wind turbines.

Visual impacts: Please outline any concerns or regard for the visual impact.

As the land-side edge of the zone is 10km from the shore, and most turbines will be much further out to sea, I am not concerned about the visual impact of wind turbines.

Other: Please outline any other benefits, issues or concerns.

We must ensure that at least 800 km2 of the area in waters less than 200m deep on the continental shelf is retained to provide enough renewable energy to continue operating our steel mill and other industries. Establishing offshore turbines in waters 200-1,000m deep off the edge of the continental shelf will be more expensive and difficult.

Offshore renewable energy must be given priority over other uses of the Illawarra ocean area. Defence must rule out the future use of the overlapping areas of firing range R485A, R485B and R495A so they can be used for renewable energy.

Map of the proposed Renewable Energy Area

An interactive map is available here:


Mythbuster: Offshore Wind: Good for our Environment, Good for our community


No. In NSW, most turbines will be floating and anchored to the bottom. They are large distances apart. Offshore wind farms exist off the coast of many surf beaches and cause no harm to surf conditions.


No. Climate change and the heating of oceans is the greatest threat to ocean life such as whales and fish. The CSIRO has found that Eastern Australian fishery species are moderately or highly sensitive to climate change, and projects a 10-40% decline for key species unless climate change is addressed. SE Australian oceans are already 1.2°C warmer, are 26-30% more acidic, and have 2% less oxygen to support marine life. Marine heatwaves are becoming more frequent.

This consultation is about the extent of the zone for offshore wind. Any specific project will have to go through extensive approval processes. The Star of the South offshore wind project in Gippsland has been undertaking years of studies of the marine environment to ensure that it understands how the project can avoid any harm.

Floating wind turbines act as giant Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) that can improve fishing. Globally, recreational fishing is allowed all through wind farms once construction is complete. There may be exclusion zones during construction.


A recent study of bird behaviour near offshore wind turbines in Aberdeen Bay found no collisions in two years of monitoring. Climate change poses a much greater threat to birds than wind turbines. Wind power is vital to the effort to stop climate change.


There is no evidence that whale migration patterns are affected by offshore wind turbines. Studies into whale deaths in the US found that wind turbines were not responsible. Whales were dying because of collisions with ships, swallowing plastic, or getting caught in fishing gear.

Again, the location of individual offshore wind farms will be the subject of approvals processes, which will take into account any whale migration and calving patterns.

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Australia says that ‘Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing whales and dolphins today.’


Most of the land-side edge of the zone is 10-30km from the coast, much further away than the big ships that currently dot the horizon all along the coast to Port Kembla.


No. There is more exposure to electromagnetic radiation from a mobile phone or microwave oven.

In addition to the metallic covering around the cable, undersea power cables are typically buried under the seafloor for their protection. As electromagnetic fields from undersea power cables decrease rapidly with distance from the cable, burying the cables substantially reduces the levels of magnetic and induced electric fields in seawater.




Authorised by P Crumlin, Maritime Union of Australia, Sydney