A DECISION by the federal government to explore the possibility of a wind farm off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria has led to praise from the Maritime Union.

Energy minister Angus Taylor announced last week Offshore Energy Pty Ltd would be allowed to determine if Australia could be part of the offshore wind farm sector in the long term.

“Offshore wind farms could provide Australia with significant new investment and employment possibilities while also contributing to the stability of the grid and lowering power prices,” Mr Taylor said. “Offshore wind is more plentiful and consistent than onshore wind and aligns better with energy demand.”

With this licence, OEPL is to be allowed to assess wind resources and sea bed conditions.

OEPL has not been given any rights to develop or operate an offshore wind farm.

The licence requires OEPL to do “extensive consultation” with the community and industry before undertaking any activities.

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MUA deputy national secretary Will Tracey said the granting of this exploration license was a “welcome step towards the construction of Australia’s first offshore wind farm”.

“This outcome is the result of months of lobbying by unions and community groups who have been highlighting the potential for an offshore wind sector to create thousands of quality jobs, particularly in regional communities like Gippsland that have been hit hard by the closure of coal generators,” Mr Tracey said.

“Even the anti-renewable energy forces within the Federal Government have realised the potential of this project, finally allowing the essential investigation of sea bed conditions and wind and wave conditions that are needed before it can proceed to a detailed planning stage.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said the union was demanding support from all levels of government.

“What we need now is for all levels of government to work together to facilitate the development of this and many more offshore wind projects, allowing us to become a leader in this growth sector,” he said. “Offshore wind farms will require new port infrastructure, specialised construction vessels, major investment in manufacturing, and improvements to the electricity grid.”

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