Offshore Energy managing director Andy Evans gives EcoGeneration a quick profile of what he hopes will be Australia’s first offshore wind farm.
A 2GW offshore wind farm is a major announcement. How long has the idea been in the works?
Offshore Energy formed in 2012 principally to look at the proposed site for the Star of the South Energy Project. We’ve investigated other sites but none have the same immediate potential.
In a windy country where land is cheap, what benefit can offshore offer over onshore?
Key advantages of offshore wind include the higher capacity factor, more consistent generation profile, potential for larger projects and the avoidance of issues associated with using land – such as, competing uses or social issues that arise with all land-based energy generation.
What can you tell us about the area you are looking at: depth to seabed, wind, tides, waves, etc.
An extensive and positive preliminary planning and environmental study has already been undertaken by leading global engineering firm WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff which shows that there are no unmanageable environmental or permitting issues.
Available data indicates strong, consistent winds in the proposed exploration area, which is at seabed depths of 20-40 metres. Substantial additional data capture would be a key component of the feasibility study that will be undertaken if Offshore Energy is granted the required rights by the Commonwealth.
Tide and wave impact, especially on construction, will be investigated during the feasibility period.
Were you attracted to the site for proximity to transmission?
Proximity to transmission is a key attraction of the proposed exploration area. There is available capacity in the Latrobe Valley that has been confirmed for connection by AEMO.
Is it easy to scale the project up?
The project could be scaled up. Substantial technology improvements and cost reductions are expected during the at least three-year feasibility period, which should highlight that the project should be at least 2GW.
Do you talk much to wave energy developers about working together, or should wind farms not be built where there are waves?
Most discussions are with offshore wind developers to develop a project of this size. Wave energy is not a consideration at this stage given the huge potential for offshore wind energy at the site.
How is floating turbine technology coming along overseas?
Like all renewable energy technology, floating turbine technology is progressing.
Are floating turbines viable for part of your project?
The project is still in the early stages and Offshore Energy will look at optimising the project based on whatever is most suitable at the time of construction.