The company behind Star of the South, the first offshore windfarm proposed in Australia, has started deploying wind and wave monitoring equipment from Port Welshpool to collect important data on the wind profile and conditions in Bass Strait.
Two LiDAR wind measuring devices and a wave buoy will be out at sea for several years for this and other investigations, including seabed studies to confirm sea depths and conditions, as well as baseline environmental surveys for marine life and birds.
Local Gippsland workers are now amongst the first in Australia to be trained to service the wind- and wave-monitoring equipment while it is out at sea.
Specialist wind and wave contractor Akrocean shipped the equipment to Australia from Europe in October 2019 with support from local supplier TEK-Ocean who is assisting with equipment installation and ongoing maintenance works.
Next year, the project will also start soil testing to understand ground conditions in the area. These investigations will help confirm the project’s feasibility and inform early planning.
Casper Frost Thorhauge has joined the Star of the South as the project’s new chief executive. He has extensive experience in developing and delivering offshore wind projects in Europe and Asia.
Most recently, Mr Thorhauge led the 900-MW Greater Changhua 1 and 2a offshore windfarms in Taiwan. He has also held senior management roles and board positions with one of Denmark’s biggest energy companies, where he successfully led a number of offshore wind projects through their development phase totalling more than US$10Bn.
The Star of the South involves wind turbines out at sea generating electricity and connecting to the network in the Latrobe Valley.
It would be the biggest offshore wind project in the southern hemisphere and
could supply around 18% of the state’s electricity needs and help protect against blackouts in summer.
The project also has the potential to create thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds in operation, injecting investment into Gippsland’s economy.
If the project is feasible and developed to its full potential, it could provide around 2.0 GW of power into the grid by 2027.