12 April 2023

Umwelt, supporting the transition to offshore wind across the nation

Offshore wind energy has a vital role to play in Australia’s clean energy transition. With lofty targets set by state governments around the nation, and investment in excess of $1.4 billion in reliable renewable generation and storage by the Federal government, the transition to clean energy is high on the priority list for our country’s future.

In addition to other clean energy offerings, offshore wind energy has a vital role to play in Australia’s clean energy transition. Victoria was the first state in the country to declare a dedicated offshore wind area, and has set ambitious targets. The state aims to generate at least two gigawatts of offshore generation capacity by 2032, four gigawatts by 2035 and nine GW gigawatts by 2040.

Umwelt's Offshore Wind Experience

The first offshore wind declared area in Gippsland was announced in December 2022 with the feasibility licence period open until end of April 2023. The Umwelt team has been fortunate and very excited to have had the opportunity to help establish this emerging industry. Led by our Environmental Approvals teams, we have delivered a range of technical reports and advisory services for offshore wind projects in the Gippsland, Portland, Hunter and Wollongong regions, through preliminary assessments, referrals and supporting feasibility licence applications.

Our studies have assisted offshore proponents in:

  • tailoring site areas and design based on risk assessment outcomes
  • developing design and construction methodologies to minimise the potential for significant environmental, heritage and social impacts
  • and in turn improve project viability and acceptance

How have we been able to support our clients?

Through early risk identification, interactive constraint mapping, providing comprehensive approval strategies and detailing further studies with critical-path items such as seasonal field surveys, we have been able to prepare projects for the most efficient approval routes and inform project development plans.

Our teams have prepared the following deliverables for offshore wind:

  • preliminary environmental, heritage and social impact and risk assessments
  • approvals strategies including how to navigate the new Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act) and associated regulations and guidelines
  • drafting management plans for feasibility phase activities
  • further studies and field survey schedules including approval needs
  • social impact assessment
  • the preparation and submission of referrals under the federal EPBC Act and state level EE Act (Victoria) including regulator consultation

As a new industry with constantly emerging new legislation, regulations and guidelines, we’ve enjoyed contributing to discussions with both regulators and proponents in relation to the application of the OEI Act for project approvals and delivery, and considering what best-practice approaches will emerge for technical studies offshore. We’re excited to continue on this journey and look forward to further expanding our skills and partnerships. This is particularly the case as projects progress towards approvals following licence award later in 2023.