Update on Western Australia's Offshore Renewable Energy Clone

Building offshore wind in West Australia

Right now, the Commonwealth government is holding a consultation on declaring an 'Offshore Renewable Energy Area' in the ocean 20-100km off the coast of SW WA.

We are asking everyone in the community to participate in the consultation and show their support for the Declaration of this Offshore Renewable Energy Area, before 3 May 2024.

· This is an incredible opportunity for West Australian workers and our entire community to build the renewable energy infrastructure we need to create thousands of good union jobs and address the climate crisis.

· Offshore wind can provide bulk electricity to keep WA's manufacturing going and allow the alumina refinery to keep operating long into the future. It means billions in investment into the whole region.

· The Port of Bunbury could be a major hub for onshore and offshore renewable energy infrastructure for the whole state.

· The Bunbury area was chosen because it has a skilled workforce, great electricity grid connections and port infrastructure, and a location close to large electricity loads.

· Strong and consistent offshore winds blow at times that solar power isn't available. Ten gigawatts (10,000 megawatts) of fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines could be built off Bunbury. WA currently operates 1.7 GW (1,700 MW) of coal fired power stations. Electricity demand will grow as more systems are electrified to reduce emissions.

· Wind turbines can create habitat for fish and other marine life. Building renewable energy will help address climate change, which is currently the greatest threat to ocean life.

Many of the key fishing species in SW WA are highly sensitive to climate change. The average ocean temperature around Bunbury has already increased by 1 degree since 1950, and marine heatwaves are become much more common. WA's oceans are already 30% more acidic than they were in the 1800s and this could double.

Make a submission - before midnight Friday 3 May 2024.

Go to: consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-bunbury.

Below are the questions the government is asking about the proposed Offshore Wind Area: Indian Ocean off Bunbury, Western Australia, with suggested answers. If you have time, please add your own commentary or use your own words.

Environment: Can you see any benefits related to the environment?

Click 'yes'. Building offshore wind projects will help reduce carbon emissions that cause climate change, which is the greatest environmental threat we face.

Concerns? No.

Visual amenity: Any concerns related to visual amenity? Click 'No'.

Community: Can you see any benefits or opportunities related to the community and onshore transmission?

Click 'yes'. This is a great opportunity. To ensure the benefits are shared among workers and communities the Minister must require that renewable energy projects in the Area:

  • Provide secure, quality, union jobs
  • Minimum apprenticeships ratios and training and transition opportunities for energy workers
  • Maximise Australian manufacturing for offshore wind, including wind turbine components, cables, and vessels
  • Provide benefits for First Nations people
  • Require the use of Regulated Australian Vessels with Navigation Act qualifications for crew.

The government must build a publicly owned common user port terminal for construction and maintenance, and publicly owned transmission infrastructure from the grid to shared offshore connection points.

Concerns? No.

Fishing: Can you see any benefits or opportunities related to fishing?

Click 'yes'. Wind turbines may provide habitat for fish and other sea life, and could improve recreational fishing. Climate change and the heating of the oceans are a much greater threat to fish stocks than wind turbines. Recreational fishers must be allowed to fish within the boundaries of offshore wind farms (as is the case in the USA and UK) and as close as possible to wind turbines.

Concerns? No.

What will it look like?

Digital rendering of offshore wind turbines to illustrate how they would look when built 20km from shore. From Marlston Hill lookout, Bunbury. See https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-bunbury

Digital rendering of offshore wind turbines to illustrate how they would look when built 20km from shore. From Marlston Hill lookout, Bunbury. See https://consult.dcceew.gov.au/oei-bunbury

Map of the proposed offshore wind area

The yellow area is the proposed area where offshore wind turbines could be sited, pending further applications. Blue areas are marine parks. Yellow and red are electricity transmission lines.

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