Green energy company Nexsphere is hoping to have an offshore wind farm up and running deep in the Bass Strait by 2026, amid calls for a bolstered wind energy input for the state's growing electricity needs.
According to the company's initial plans, the Bass Offshore Wind Energy project will be placed "over the horizon" in the Bass Strait off the coast of North-East Tasmania and marks the first public proposal of its kind in the state.
While an exact location has yet to be finalised, Nexsphere expects the farm's distance from shore to minimise the "visual impact to the point where they [the wind turbines] cannot be seen from land".
The wind farm would generate 500 to 1000 megawatts and have a 40-year lifespan. Formerly known as Brookvale Energy, the company will submit plans for the wind farm under the newly minted Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021, which was passed federally in both houses in late November and outlines a pathway to expand Australia's underdeveloped offshore energy capabilities.
Nexsphere isn't the only company eyeing the Bass Strait's wind power potential, with the proposed 2.2-gigawatt Star of the South project now in the works just off the Victorian coast. About 12 other offshore wind projects are in the works around the nation as Australia looks to bolster its green energy output.
News of the project comes days after a Hydro Tasmania executive noted that more wind farms will be required to feed the planned "green" hydrogen and ammonia production sector at Bell Bay.
Major Australian energy companies such as Fortescue, Woodside, Origin have all proposed hydrogen and ammonia operations in Bell Bay, which would collectively require vast amounts of green power for energy-intensive electrolysis.
To meet the hydrogen sector's expectedly high electricity demand, Hydro Tasmania acting chief executive officer Ian Brooksbank said the plan was to have more wind farms added to Hydro's dispatchable power capacity.
Nexsphere has stated that green energy from the BOWE project would be available for the planned Bell Bay Hydrogen Hub, and also added that it is "working closely" with the state government to align the project with the proposed Battery of the Nation and Marinus Link projects.
Energy generated offshore by the BOWE project will then "plug into" a substation on Tasmania's North coast. While the company is continuing to investigate connection options with TasNetworks, it noted that its preferred grid connection was into the George Town substation.
This would place it in close proximity to the proposed Bell Bay hydrogen projects. A similar connection point was considered at the Sheffield substation near Burnie but was deemed unfeasible.
Nexsphere's project follows a report by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre earlier this year, which highlighted the Bass Strait as one of the top locations in the nation for offshore wind farms, due to its high wind speeds, and proximity to existing infrastructure.
The report also zeroed in on the potential for offshore wind to contribute to the planned hydrogen facilities. Research director at the Blue Economy CRC Irene Penesis, believes the ability for wind power to contribute to the hydrogen sector shouldn't be overlooked.
"Australia's offshore wind generation potential is equivalent or better to that of Europe, US, Japan and the UK combined. Offshore wind can provide grid-connected clean energy, but it's also about the potential to produce hydrogen with that energy and export that out to other countries," she said.
Nexsphere chief executive Glen Kierse also noted the project's potential to support the state's burgeoning hydrogen industry.
"With BOWE, Tasmania can deliver major green energy solutions to its people and businesses - including hydrogen generation - as well as position itself to export green energy to the mainland," he added.
Nexsphere plans to commence community engagement and provide further project details and updates in early 2022.
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