The Australian government has selected the Bass Strait area off the coast of Victoria as the country's first priority area for offshore wind developments.

Bass Strait is a long-established oil and gas producing region dominated by the ExxonMobil and BHP joint venture.

Australia is eager to establish an offshore wind industry to help the country's transition to cleaner fuels; the government has set a target of 2050 for carbon neutrality.

The government announced on 5 April that the Bass Strait had comparatively favourable wind conditions, investor interest, indications of support from the Victoria state government, and has identified grid connection plans.

“Backing offshore wind supports Australia on our journey to reach carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Minister for Industry, Energy & Emissions Reduction, Tim Wilson.

“We’re pressing down on the accelerator and delivering a pathway to decarbonisation. An offshore electricity industry could create thousands of new jobs and drive the economic growth of our regional and coastal economies,” he added.

Star of the South project

The announcement is good news for Star of the South, a proposed 2 gigawatt wind farm in Bass Strait, added Wilson.

The project has the potential to supply power to 1.2 million homes and deliver up to 20% of Victoria’s electricity needs.

Star of the South is expected to create around 2000 direct jobs in Victoria over its lifetime, including 760 Gippsland jobs during construction and 200 ongoing local jobs once it is up and running, he added.

The first step will be to ensure the Bass Strait area is suitable for offshore wind developments and has safeguards to protect local marine life and the environment.

The Bass Strait represents just the start of Australia's process, and other offshore areas will be selected as they are identified and prioritised, once the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 commences in June this year.

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