The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Minister for Climate Change and Energy

The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio MP, Victorian Minister for Climate Action, Energy and Resources

The Albanese Government has officially declared an offshore wind zone in the Southern Ocean off western Victoria, paving the way for energy and job security in a region home to one of Australia’s largest smelters.

This is the third officially declared offshore wind zone in the country and will support future onshore manufacturing in Victoria powered by cleaner, cheaper energy.

The new industry will bring new job opportunities to Portland and surrounds with 1,740 jobs during construction and 870 ongoing operation jobs such as engineers, labourers, technicians, operators, riggers, divers, and administrators.

Western Victoria is well suited to offshore wind, with world-class wind resources, high-quality shipping infrastructure and an aluminium smelter that draws up to 10 percent of Victoria’s electricity.

The zone could generate up to 2.9GW of offshore wind energy – enough to power over 2 million homes, that’s equivalent to two-and-a-half Portland Smelters.

After extensive community consultation with local leaders, industry and community groups, the final area is 1,030 km2 – one fifth of the originally proposed zone. It is located at least 15 – 20km from Victoria’s coast, and the zone no longer includes an area off South Australia. The declared area works around the Bonney Upwelling, Deen Maar Island and shipping routes, taking into account the environmental, cultural heritage and economic significance of these areas.

Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the declaration was a major step towards Australia’s clean energy future.

“The Southern Ocean offshore wind zone has the potential to create thousands of new, high-value jobs and help secure cleaner, cheaper more reliable energy for regional Victoria,” said Minister Bowen.

“Australia has abundant renewable energy, the cheapest form of energy, and the government is committed to helping Australians benefit from these natural resources, including offshore wind.”

Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio said wind farms off Victoria’s coast would help power the state with affordable, clean energy.

“Victoria is leading the way in offshore wind, with the first wind zones in the country declared off the coast of Gippsland and the southwest coast,” said Minister D’Ambrosio.

“This is another step closer to delivering our target of at least 2 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2032 and will also help us get to net zero by 2045.”

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Southern Ocean zone will open from 6 March until 2 July 2024.

During the feasibility licence stage, developers must undertake detailed environmental assessments and engage in further consultation, including how the project will coexist with shipping, tourism and fishing industries.

Construction can only begin after the feasibility stage is completed and developers have gained subsequent environmental and management plan approvals, as well as demonstrating how projects will benefit Australian industry and jobs.