Onshore wind projects are Australia’s biggest source of renewable energy, with enough capacity at present to cover over 7 per cent of our electricity needs.
Now our first major offshore wind farm is set to be delivered through the Star of the South project, which aims to commence operations off Gippsland in Victoria by 2028.
Star of the South chief development officer Erin Coldham recently fielded questions on the Energy Insiders Podcast about the future of the project and what it will mean for Victoria.
Offshore wind gets stronger than onshore projects
Star of the South and the Bureau of Meteorology have conducted in depth analysis of the Gippsland site, and found that the strongest gusts tend pick up towards the end of the day.
“So where we start to see other technologies perhaps dropping off, such as solar, there is great potential for offshore wind to come and fill some of that gap,” Erin said.
On top of that, a correlation was discovered between hot days (over 35°C) when power demand is at its highest, and stronger gusts, due to high pressure systems at the Gippsland site that will be able to cover that demand.
The research also showed that on peak days during hot weather, turbines could operate at 70 per cent capacity compared to an average of 50 per cent.
The technologies that will be used to harness this power
Innovations in turbines have been extremely rapid in recent years. There are now floating turbines for deep water, and traditional turbines available for shallow water.
Due to the nature and conditions of the coast of Victoria, Star of the South will use traditional turbines as the deepest the water will get is 40 metres. In terms of the power generation itself, that is still unknown.
Technologies from 5.6MW all the way to the latest 15GW options have been sent for environmental referrals. In the meantime, Erin said work would continue developing the profile for the site.
“We’ve still got a long way to go on this journey and we will look forward to keeping people informed as we go along,” she said.
“At this stage we are still focusing on the actual wind profile we have got out there that we are measuring, as well as following what is happening in that global supply chain.”
This farm is part of 19GW of renewable projects to proceed in Victoria
Australia could be set to see more projects in the near future after a report commissioned in the UK by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) revealed that wind power would be our best weapon in the fight against human-made emissions and climate change.
Victoria is also set to become a boom region for renewable energy, with 19GW of projects given the green light to go ahead.
“We’ve got approximately nine gigawatts of applications on our books right now,” AEMO’s Victorian head of connection Margarida Pimental told a Clean Energy Council webinar.
“And we’ve got approximately 10 gigawatts of inquiries that are starting getting that have come through, which are eventually turning into applications.”