Renewables to power regional jobs with offshore wind zone declared off the Illawarra


Following extensive community consultation with local leaders, industry, unions, First Nations people, community groups and individuals the Illawarra offshore wind zone has been amended

The amended zone will now be 20 kilometres from the coast and excludes significant environmental areas including the Biologically Important Area for the Little Penguin, the Shelf Rocky Reef Key Ecological Feature and the Southern Right Whale migration and reproduction area.

The final area for the zone is 1,022 km2 – reducing the zone by a third from the originally proposed zone.

This is the fourth officially declared zone in the country and will unlock renewable energy jobs, energy security and job security, while supporting onshore manufacturing powered by reliable renewables.

It will bring new employment opportunities to the Illawarra, creating an estimated 1,740 new jobs during construction and 870 ongoing jobs. This includes engineers, technicians, operators, riggers, seafarers, dockworkers, project managers and administrators.

The zone will also power existing heavy industry with cleaner, cheaper energy, helping secure the future of thousands of existing industrial and associated jobs in the Illawarra as well as providing opportunities to attract new job-creating industries using clean energy.

It has the potential to generate an estimated 2.9 GW of electricity, enough to power 1.8 million homes.

As well as providing reliable renewable energy to Australian industry, offshore wind projects will be required to maximise their use of Australian supply chains including steel and closely consult with local industry and workers on their project plans to ensure local workers and businesses benefit from the establishment of this new industry.

“The Illawarra has been an engine room of the Australian economy for generations, and now it’s ready to power Australia’s clean energy future,” Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said.

“Declaring this offshore wind zone brings the Illawarra a step closer to becoming a major provider of the building blocks of the net zero transformation – green power, green hydrogen and green steel – along with thousands of new jobs.”

Feasibility licence applications for offshore wind projects in the Illawarra zone open from Monday 17 June and close on 15 August 2024.

These licences will only be awarded to developers whose proposed projects do the most to support Australia’s workforce and energy security, protect the environment and share the marine space with shipping, tourism and fishing industries.

Construction can only begin after the feasibility stage is completed and developers have gained subsequent environmental and management plan approvals, as well as demonstrating how projects will benefit Australian industry and jobs.