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FEATURED AUSTRALIA BUSINESS REPORT: BlueFloat shifts focus for windfarm project further north along Illawarra coastline


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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.08: 2023:

#AceNewsDesk – The proponent of an offshore Illawarra windfarm says it is shifting focus to its preferred site further north on the New South Wales coast.

Offshore floating wind turbines sit on the horizon
BlueFloat Energy will hold community consultation next week about its proposed windfarm off the Illawarra coast. (Supplied: BlueFloat Energy)none

BlueFloat Energy had been investigating the building of floating turbines at two sites off the Illawarra and South Coast, including between Kiama and Jervis Bay, as part of its 1,600MW South Pacific Offshore Wind Project.

But on Wednesday, the company said its “preferred” location for the 100 turbines was around 14 kilometres off the coast between Shellharbour and Clifton mainly due to its proximity to Port Kembla.

“We’ve reviewed both options and the northern site is probably the preferred site at this point in time,” BlueFloat Energy country manager Nick Sankey said.

“At this stage, we’ve outlined an area from Shellharbour to Clifton but we’ll be refining that as we continue to investigate the area.”BlueFloat Energy says it prefers the northern location due to its proximity to Port Kembla.(Supplied: NSW Ports)none

Mr Sankey said the identified location was also more amenable to its plans, as its falls within the New South Wales government’s declared Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

“So this is consistent with the NSW government’s plans to develop renewable energy within the area,” he said.

“We hope that working alongside bodies like [the Energy Corporation of NSW] we can work towards strengthening the transmission grid infrastructure to facilitate within the area to facilitate our project.”

‘People did not want them’

The company’s decision was welcomed by residents at Kiama who expressed opposition during recent community consultation about the offshore windfarm being built south of Wollongong.

“No matter who I spoke to, people did not want them off the coast of Kiama,” independent Kiama councillor Matt Brown said.

“We do need to move to a form of green energy, but it needs to be put in the appropriate place with the appropriate infrastructure.”

Mr Brown said the community had been concerned about the impact of the project on the region’s tourism industry and the environment.

“Primarily people were worried about looking out at one of the last frontiers of beautiful ocean and seeing this massive factory of wind farms,” he said.

“A lot of people were also concerned about the whale migration path and that each of these wind turbines would have four anchors off each pontoon going into the sea floor in very deep water.”

BlueFloat Energy is due to hold community consultation with residents further north next week.BlueFloat Energy had been considering installing turbines off the coast of Kiama.(Supplied: Oyvind Gravas)none

Support anticipated

Wollongong Greens councillor Cath Blakey said she was confident local ratepayers would support the company’s proposal.

“I think the community will be really interested and, I would like to think, really positive as well,” Ms Blakey said.

“We know in Wollongong we do have a lot of heavy industry and it’s something that we live with … and we know that our community has often had quite nostalgic regard for some of our heavy industry.

“We know that to be able to power our heavy industry with renewable energy, we need big projects like this offshore windfarm.

“It’s early in the planning system, so if there are concerns or issues raised … these are things that are really important to address early in the design phase.”

BlueFloat Energy is one of two companies exploring the feasibility of an offshore windfarm in the region, with Oceanex also considering installing wind turbine generators around 20 kilometres off the coast of Wollongong.

The most advanced offshore proposal in Australia is the Star of the South windfarm off the coast of Gippsland in Victoria, which proponents say would have the capacity to supply up to 20 per cent of Victoria’s energy requirements.

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