Situated between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia is surrounded on all sides by the sea, with a coastal line that exceeds 36,000 km. It therefore comes as no surprise that future renewable energy strategies will move towards the sea. At the moment, three offshore wind power projects have been announced, two of which will even adopt floating offshore wind turbines.
Spain-based energy developer BlueFloat Energy is currently working with energy consultancy Energy Estate to develop wind farms in Australia. In the works are a 1.4 GW one in Hunter Coast in New South Wales, a 1.6 GW one in Wollongong, and a 1.3 GW one in Greater Gippsland.
According to BlueFloat Energy, the Hunter Coast and Wollongong wind farms will adopt floating offshore wind turbines, whereas the Greater Gippsland wind farm will stick with the more traditional bottom-fixed wind turbines. CEO Carlos Martin indicates that offshore wind power is currently undergoing massive growth globally, and it is now Australia’s turn. Martin hopes that Australia will be able to leverage its remarkable marine resources in the future.
Australia has seen rapid advancements in renewable energy development in recent years, though most of this development has come by way of photovoltaics, onshore wind power, and BESS, without a single offshore wind farm in sight. However, starting from November, the Australian parliament ratified certain laws related to propelling the country’s offshore energy development. These laws are expected to inject new job opportunities and investments into Australia’s burgeoning offshore wind farm and power grid systems.
On the other hand, the development of the global offshore wind power market has reached a certain level. As of now, offshore wind turbines are primarily fixed onto the seabed with concrete or steel pillars. This type of configuration, however, is limited by both the depth of the water and the distance from the shore. That is why the current crop of offshore wind turbines are mostly mounted in shallow waters that are less than 50 m deep. As more and more equipment becomes installed, developable, suitable wind farms have become few and far between. Hence, an increasing number of developers have now set their sights on vaster deep sea areas where floating offshore wind turbines can be mounted onto the sea bed via long cables, thereby expanding the range of areas where offshore wind farms can be installed.
A previous report from GWEC indicated that the annual newly installed offshore wind capacity reached 6.1 GW in 2020, which marked a slight decline from the 6.24 GW installed in 2019. Going forward, however, GWEC is bullish on the installed capacity of offshore wind farms, with the organization noting in the aforementioned selfsame report that newly added offshore wind capacity will likely increase by 235 GW within the next 10 years to a total of 270 GW in 2070.