OPINION: Anthony Albanese’s Labor Party won Australia’s general election in May on the back of a strong cleaner energy mandate, and within less than three months his government had unveiled six proposed offshore regions with touted world-class offshore wind potential.

Public consultation will commence immediately on the proposed area in the Bass Strait offshore Gippsland, as the government collaborates with communities, environmental groups, industry and the maritime sector to ensure communities are appropriately engaged in establishing this new industry Down Under.

Further details on — and the timing of — the consultations of the other areas located offshore New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania will be revealed in future.

The locations for potential offshore wind power projects include some with existing energy generation facilities and transmission networks that could help facilitate development. Australia’s Federal Climate Change & Energy Minister Chris Bowen for years has been a keen proponent of developing the nation’s offshore wind capacity.

“Many other countries have been successfully harvesting offshore wind energy for years, and now is the time for Australia to start the journey to firmly establish this reliable and significant form of renewable energy,” said Bowen.

The nation may well have excellent offshore wind power potential but whether those resources can be harnessed to compete commercially with Australia’s other abundant renewable energies such as onshore wind and solar remains to be determined.

While offshore wind is expected to be a key decarbonisation solution globally and the growth of such projects is on an exponential upward trajectory, Australia might be best placed to focus on other renewables if they indeed prove to be less capital intensive.

Any incentives that the respective state governments and/or the federal government offer could be pivotal if Australia’s offshore wind power potential is going to become anything more than ‘potential’.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)