This week saw significant progress made toward the development of Australia‘s large offshore wind projects. A deal to create offshore windfarms in New South Wales was announced by the transnational energy business Equinor as well as the Australian firm Oceanex Energy.
A few short weeks ago, the Australian federal government gave its approval for the implementation of offshore wind projects over the entire country. What other factors might explain the timing, aside from the fact that a new government has taken office with a more environment agenda?
“The pace of technological development has led to a diminished Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE),” said Corey Tidey (pictured above), renewable energy manager for Lockton Companies Australia. “This has made these developments more viable than they’ve been and seems to be a key reason how some Australia has been joining the party,” he added. “These developments are now more sustainable than they’ve been and are a key reason why Australia is now wanting to join the party.”
An economic assessment of the cost of an energy-generating system over its lifetime is known as a levelized cost of energy (LCOE). This cost estimate takes into account both the initial outlay and the return on capital.
According to Ranga Jayaratne, the national manager of power and energy for Lockton, it has taken about ten years and a significant amount of effort from a variety of stakeholders for Australia to reach this point.
What gets underappreciated, he said, is “the great volume of work that so many participants have put into establishing the vision for the tidal power business, in Victoria in especially.”
It is generally agreed upon that the Star of the South project, which is located in Gippsland, Victoria, is the most advanced project of its sort anywhere in the nation.
Jayaratne described hearing the news of the many windfarm projects being developed around Australia as “very thrilling.”
The manager at Lockton stated, “We’ve worked with many of these stakeholders throughout the course of the journey, so individually, I was glad their hard work has culminated to this juncture.” “However, there is plenty more work ahead, but at least now there is a clear roadmap.”
According to Jayaratne, in order for Australia to achieve its “realistic” net zero targets, “substantial investment in both distribution and supply is going to be needed,” and the initiative and good judgment of the federal government will be essential to support this endeavor.
Offshore wind, according to Transport Minister Chris Bowen, is one of the “essential measures” that Australia needs to take in order to reach its goal of 82 percent renewables by the year 2030.
According to information published on its website, Oceanex estimates that the aggregate amount of capital investment that will be necessary for five of the Australian windfarm projects will be greater than $40 billion.
According to Tidey, the process to determine whether or not these offshore wind projects are feasible is more rigorous than the process for their onshore equivalents.
“Before any expenditure decisions are made by project developers, investors, or any grant funders, a lot of things need to be examined,” he added. “In particular, an examination into potential issues regarding applicable legislation between state and federal waterways is of concern in Australia.”
According to Tidey, the procedure usually involves a pre-development feasibility phase during which research are conducted into the effects of the technology on the existing and future sources of energy.
In addition to this, there are things like economic feasibility studies, environmental impact investigations, and land purchases that need to be done. An evaluation of the energy yield, a study of the establishment of the supply chain, assistance with or evaluations of the maturity of the technology, community impact studies, and public consultation are all now in the works.
“This list is not exhaustive, but it is vital to underline the comprehensive process required, considering the magnitude at which these projects will be produced,” said Tidey. “The scale at which these projects will be created makes this process imperative.”
According to Tidey, risk lessons have been learned from these projects in the United Kingdom and Europe, where investment in offshore wind energy is “thriving.” Because of this, we also have a more nuanced knowledge of the inherent dangers that are associated with these endeavors.
“Historically speaking, perhaps the most important problems have been around cable mistakes, poor workmanship, land reclamation, empowering and climate change, innovation inadequacies, and more awhile back a lack of robust supply chain,” he said. “Historically speaking, perhaps the most crucial problems have been there for cable failures.”
According to Tidey, experience has demonstrated that the viability of these types of projects is contingent on early-stage community engagement and support, as well as consultation with the general public.
“Ensuring that extensive impact assessments have been completed around these troubles and then working to implement suitable remediation would also assist in getting these projects off the ground,” he said. “[T]hese studies must be conducted as early as possible.”
According to Tidey, it is also extremely important that all of the project’s stakeholders have “skin in the game.”
According to him, “this means developing a thorough impact on the risk utilization in contract terms (particularly when split procurement is adopted) between parties in order to ensure whether certain risks sit with the sides of politics that are responsible in managing them therefore all gaps in risk are considered.” “This helps develop a thorough assessment of possible utilization in contracts”
Over the past few decades, technology has brought about significant shifts in the offshore wind business, just as it has in every other sector of the economy.
According to Tidey, “the first offshore windfarm was established in 1991 in Denmark, and they utilized 450 kilowatt (kW) turbines; this was revolutionary for its time.”
According to him, the performance of wind power generation (WTGs) has expanded from approximately two to four megawatts (MW) to as much as sixteen MW over the course of the past 20 years.
“This great increase in productivity and technology brings with it clearly new and maybe unidentified hazards,” said Tidey. “These risks need to be acknowledged and controlled.”
According to him, the failures that occurred in earlier years, the losses that occurred in the business, and other lessons gave valuable data that helped enhance the “overall risk management approach and philosophy of these initiatives.”
According to Tidey, there is now a more sophisticated and in-depth awareness.
According to him, this shift has resulted in “a more sophisticated application of risk management as a whole,” one that takes into account sound corporate governance conduct, safety, and control in addition to risk detection and analysis.
Lockton believes that it is the largest independent insurance brokerage in the world, and it has more than one hundred offices located in different countries.
Two of the co-founders of the Star of the South windfarm project in Gippsland, Victoria, also own Oceanex. This gives Oceanex a unique connection to the project.
Equinor is Norway’s most important oil and gas producer, and it is also becoming increasingly involved in the country’s offshore wind industry. Dogger Bank in the United Kingdom is one of the projects, and it is anticipated to be the largest wind farm in the world, with the capacity to provide electricity to six million homes.