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The Project

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Offshore wind is a proven method of generating electricity, with offshore wind projects installed across Europe producing reliable and sustainable energy over the last 20-plus years. Asia and North America have also more recently adopted offshore wind energy production.

The Star of the South project involves the following main components:

  • Wind turbines and offshore substations in the ocean off the south coast of Gippsland.
  • Submarine cables from the wind farm perimeter to the Gippsland coast.
  • A transmission network of cables and substations connecting to the Latrobe Valley.

Upgrades to ports to allow for construction, operation and maintenance may also be required.

The project is in the feasibility stage.

In March 2019, the Australian Government granted Star of the South an exploration licence, allowing the project team to carry out a range of site investigations. These investigations are assessing local wind, seabed and environmental conditions and will help to confirm if the project can go ahead.

A decision to construct the project will be made at a later stage, subject to Australian and Victorian Government approvals.

Environmental assessments and approvals

The Star of the South project will go through comprehensive environmental assessment and approvals processes, required by the Australian and Victorian governments.

We expect the environmental assessment process will take around two years.

Environmental assessments

In April 2020 we submitted referrals under the Environment Effects (EE) Act and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to assess the project's construction and operation.

The Victorian Government has confirmed the project will undergo an Environment Effects Statement under the EE Act. The referral is published on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s website.

The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has confirmed that we’ll undergo an environmental impact assessment under the EPBC Act. Details about the referral are published on the Australian Government’s website by searching for referral number 2020/8650.

Site investigations - approved to proceed

In 2019, we submitted a referral under the EPBC Act to assess our geophysical and geotechnical investigations.

The Australian Government has determined that the site investigation activities are not a controlled action if undertaken in a particular manner.

The referral is published on the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment's website by searching for referral number 2019/8525.

Project approval

As there are no existing offshore wind projects in Australia, we're working with government on how we can best investigate and develop the project.

We currently hold an exploration licence to undertake investigations off the south coast of Gippsland.

To build and operate an offshore wind farm, we will need a commercial licence. The Australian Government is currently working on a new regulatory framework to enable offshore clean energy projects. We are closely following this process as it provides a pathway for constructing and operating offshore wind farms in Australia. Find out more on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources website.

Other approvals and consents may also be needed. These will be identified through the assessment process and in consultation with regulatory agencies.

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Key Facts

  • Australia’s first offshore wind project
  • Wind turbines off the south coast of Gippsland, transmitting electricity into the Latrobe Valley for distribution to the market
  • Capacity to power up to 1.8 million Victorian homes
  • Potential for thousand of jobs during construction and hundreds of long-term local jobs once it's up and running
  • A sustainable, reliable and clean source of energy for Victoria and Australia.

Benefits

The Star of the South is a new frontier for Australia that would provide many benefits for local communities, Victoria and Australia for years to come. Based on initial investigations, the project would:

  • have the capacity to generate enough energy to power hundreds of thousands of homes
  • create a valuable source of clean energy, assisting the transition from existing energy sources, decreasing carbon emissions and providing a reliable energy source
  • contribute towards Victoria and Australia meeting their local, national and international climate change targets
  • drive investment and create new opportunities for Gippsland, the Latrobe Valley and Victoria
  • create numerous direct construction jobs and indirect jobs as well as numerous local permanent jobs during its operation and maintenance period.

Based on our observations to date, the south coast of Gippsland is a great location for offshore wind due to strong and consistent winds, relatively low water depths and access to ports. A major advantage is that there is plenty of capacity in the existing electrical transmission network in the Latrobe Valley, meaning we can help to make the most of Victoria’s existing infrastructure.

Timing and progress

We started site investigations in November 2019, to assess the feasibility of building and operating the project. These includes:

  • deploying wind measuring equipment to confirm the wind strength and conditions in the proposed location
  • environmental and planning studies both on land and at sea
  • geotechnical surveys to understand more about the sea bed
  • economic studies with a focus on the project’s supply chain needs, including identifying opportunities for local industry
  • undertaking transmission and grid capacity studies to confirm the suitability for transmission of electricity to distribution points in the Victorian grid
  • community and stakeholder engagement to understand local needs and perspectives.

Throughout the feasibility phase, the project will progress through government planning approval processes, which is an essential step for any major project.