(updated 13 03 23)
Hunter offshore wind
(13 03 23)
The momentum for the establishment of Offshore Wind in Australia took another step forward in February when the Federal Government opened its consultation period for the Hunter Offshore Renewable Energy Zone.
Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen made the announcement in Newcastle together with Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon and State and Local Government representatives.
The consultation period is open until 28th April 2023. Interested members should go to the Department of Climate Change website - Consultation hub | Offshore renewable energy infrastructure area proposal: Pacific Ocean off Hunter - Climate Change (dcceew.gov.au).
AIMPE has previously written to Minister Bowen about Offshore Wind and we have included him in our submissions calling for a new national maritime training program – to ensure that there is a supply of skilled Australian seafarers ready to undertaken the work need to construct and operate the Hunter Offshore Wind Farms.
One of the existing proponents of a Hunter Offshore Wind farm is Oceanex Energy. Oceanex have prepared a detailed proposal which can be downloaded from their website - Oceanex Energy | Energising the new economy | Oceanex
The waters off the NSW coast are quite different from the waters of the Bass Strait off Gippsland Victoria which was the location for the first consultation in Australia over an Offshore Renewable Energy Zone. The continental shelf drops steeply off the NSW coast and the Offshore waters off NSW are too deep for the installation of Wind Turbine towers that are fixed to the seabed. This means that the Hunter Offshore Winds farms will be floating towers.
The vast majority of the Offshore Wind farms in the operation around the world today are fixed to the seabed in relatively shallow waters. Only a handful are floating Offshore Wind farms.
A variety of designs for floating Offshore Winds towers are being considered by the various proponents and developers. Whatever design eventually proves the most robust and cost effective it is almost certain that they will be largely constructed in the nearest suitable port and then towed onto location. Anchors will then be deployed to secure each tower into position.
The Oceanex proposal indicates that they will deploy over 130 towers- so that is quite a job in the initial deployment phase. Each tower will require multiple anchors to be laid so this will not just be a tow and drop operation. The towers will be connected to offshore substations and then a large cable will be laid for transmission of the electricity to the east coast grid ashore.
During the operation phase Oceanex’s indicative planning is the up to 8 vessels will be required and these will be based in Newcastle (see artists impression below - courtesy Oceanex). Some of these will be crew transfer vessels to take maintenance personnel out to the turbine towers. Others will be larger vessels with greater capability to carry out a range of tasks.