Offshore wind farm bill for new projects

Marion RaeAAP
A bill has been introduced to parliament to allow offshore wind and other clean energy technologies.
Camera IconA bill has been introduced to parliament to allow offshore wind and other clean energy technologies. Credit: AAP

Laws to allow offshore wind farms and other clean energy technologies worth more than $10 billion to be built and operated have been introduced to parliament.

"The bill establishes a regulatory framework for a new Australian industry," Energy Minister Angus Taylor told parliament on Thursday.

Leading developers are interested in setting up offshore wind farms.

Marinus Link, for Tasmania to export power to the mainland, and the Star of the South project to be located off the south coast of Gippsland are the most advanced.

Sun Cable's proposed 3750-kilometre cable to take renewable solar energy from northern Australia to Singapore will also be covered by the new legislative framework.

Worth over $10 billion in total, the three projects are expected to create more than 10,000 jobs during construction.

The minister said there are another 10 other potential projects in the works, and that investment in more electricity infrastructure will make the whole system more stable and put downward pressure on prices.

The package of laws for offshore electricity infrastructure covers the exploration, construction, operation and end of projects in Australian waters.

Work health and safety laws will apply to offshore renewables projects and maritime safety legislation will apply to vessels at all times. There are also environmental protections.

Unions are urging the minister to make sure renewable energy developments aren't lumbered with "unfair" decommissioning taxes that don't apply to oil and gas projects.

There are also calls for support for the additional training and qualifications workers may need to get a start in this new industry.

"To maximise local jobs and economic benefits, the government needs to ensure a good pipeline of projects is created through an offshore wind industry package," Electrical Trades Union boss Michael Wright said.

He said this should include investment in offshore wind port terminals and manufacturing hubs, particularly in areas like Gippsland, the Illawarra and Newcastle.

Laws and regulations for offshore wind farms were intended to be in place by the middle of this year.

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