By Michael Giles
OFFSHORE Energy’s plans to build an $8 billion, 250 turbine windfarm, 13km offshore from Snake Island, near Welshpool, need to be taken seriously.
The man leading the push to build what would be the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, managing director Andy Evans, was a key figure, in a former role at Acciona, in building the largest onshore wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, 128 turbines at Waubra near Ballarat.
So he knows how to do it and how to get government approval, which already looks to be virtually foregone conclusion with politicians of all persuasions clambering to get on board.
And he also knows how to put the venture capital together.
There’s three years, possibly more time ahead of us for a feasibility study to be carried out, and following that, all the formal environmental and siting studies.
But there’s not going to be the environmental push against this project that we saw against the Basslink cable (crossing the same area), because the environmental lobby is strongly behind this project which will (1.) provide 18 per cent of Victoria’s power needs while also (2.) establishing a system of reefs to boost marine life in the area.
The man himself said it last Friday, that construction could start as early as five years from now and take 10 years to build, so those with an interest in this project will need to keep themselves informed.
Will it be visible from Wilsons Promontory National Park? ‘No’, we are told because it is 35km east of the Prom.
Will there be an exclusion zone? Could be an exclusion zone for large shipping but with each turbine 1km or more apart, recreational fishing might be allowed to continue in the 574km2 turbine zone.
What about the Corner Inlet Ramsar environmental site? Will it be compromised by such a massive development and affect water birds in the area. Again, we’re told ‘no’ and it makes sense that renewable energy developers would have a much greater regard for the environment.
So, if the government gives its approval and the funding can be found, and that’s a couple of big ‘ifs’ it will happen.
Watch this space!