Offshore floating wind farm proposal
President of EcoNetwork Iain Watt and committee members Nigel Waters and Nigel Dique attended a drop-in session by consultants Steve McCall and Hannah Coffey, acting for EDF Renewables Australia.
This was a ‘getting to know you’ exercise with more sessions planned over time.
Offshore wind generation is seen as complementary to land-based wind and solar as offshore winds are stronger during peak demand periods. Their proposal is for a floating wind farm due to the depths in the area proposed.
EDF Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of state owned EDF (Électricité de France) Group, one of the world’s largest electricity and renewable energy producers in Europe, operating seven offshore wind farms globally with a further five under construction including a floating farm in France.
EDF has partnered with Newcastle Offshore Wind Energy in seeking a licence to develop an offshore floating wind farm in an area from Norah Head to Port Stephens proposed by the Australian Government for offshore renewable energy (subject of a separate recent consultation). It is likely more than one licence would be granted.
The consultants were not specific at this stage about where in the (eventual) declared licence area EDF may bid for, although their latest preference was for further out and further south.
It was a useful introduction, with Iain Watt noting justifiable community suspicion and cynicism about any ‘big business’ approach to these sorts of projects, which they accepted as a legitimate concern they would take on board.
They were also well aware of concerns about ecological impacts, including on whale and bird migration, and about the visual impact of large offshore turbines.
Committee member Nigel Waters also attended a drop-in session held by BlueFloat Energy, to introduce their EasternRise proposal for a 1.7GW floating windfarm in the yet to be finally declared licence area off the Hunter coast.
A third private sector proposal, from Novocastrian Offshore Wind, has yet to hold any local consultations – some information is available on their website.
Proposal for offshore wind projects off the Hunter – EcoNetwork’s article in EcoUpdate March 2023
Submission to the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy – Hunter Bird Observers Club April 2023
An ecological risk assessment for the impacts of offshore wind farms on birds in Australia – Reid K., Baker G. Barry. & Woehler Eric J. (2023) Reid K., Baker G. Barry. & Woehler Eric J. (2023). Austral Ecology Volume 48, Issue 2/ p. 418-439.
Briggs, C., M. Hemer, P. Howard, R. Langdon, P. Marsh, S. Teske and D. Carrascosa (2021). Offshore Wind Energy in Australia: Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, Launceston, TAS. 92p.