Senate Estimates and the Star of the South by Pat Simons

Australia could soon be home to the world’s largest offshore wind farm, with the 2GW Star of the South proposed off Victoria’s Gippsland coast in June 2017.  But more than 18 months later, the federal Coalition government remains quiet about the proposal despite receiving departmental recommendations, as revealed in Senate estimates yesterday.

Answering questions from ALP Senator Anthony Chisholm in Senate estimates during the final sitting days of Parliament, the Department of Environment and Energy revealed it has made a recommendation to the Energy Minister as part of a briefing about the project. The decision now rests with Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

In order to proceed to the first stage of detailed planning processes to properly assess wind resource and any possible environmental impacts, the project requires an exploration license from the federal government. The obvious question is why the delay?

If it goes ahead the Star of the South offshore wind farm could create as many as 2,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs, and avoid up to 10.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector every year. The prospect of powering as much as 20% of Victoria with clean energy shows that Star of the South could be a game changer for action on climate change. Not only that, at a time when the federal Coalition insists it is squarely focused on reducing power prices, it is bizarre that the Morrison government appears to be delaying a landmark renewable energy project that would bring on new electricity supply.

We’re calling on the Energy Minister to:

1. Immediately provide a status update on the Star of the South Energy Project.

2. Approve the requisite exploration license so the project can undertake detailed ecological, social and economic assessment.

3. Clarify his position on the role of wind energy technology in Australia’s electricity grid as part of action on climate change.

Original article here.