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Australia introduces Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021 [free access]

September 2, 2021

The government of Australia has introduced the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021, which will allow offshore wind projects to operate in Commonwealth waters. Under the legislation, the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (NOPTA) will oversee licences for offshore projects, while the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) will have oversight of ongoing operations and safety.


The bill will allow the government to designate offshore electricity areas in Commonwealth waters that are more than three miles (4.83 km) from the shore. This legislation will also establish a licensing regime for offshore renewable energy and transmission projects. By passing this bill, many projects that are already in development, such as the Marinus Link transmission line, which will link Tasmania's Battery of the Nation projects (involving hydropower utilisation) with its mainland counterpart, will advance.


The passage of this bill will also advance a number of offshore wind and transmission projects already underway, including the Star of the South—an offshore wind farm off Gippsland, Victoria, and the Sun Cable—a long distance transmission line in the north.


Infrastructure projects for offshore wind and offshore electricity transmission cables are covered under the legislation, and co-existence with other users of the offshore area will be addressed from the outset. It also protects the environment and requires developers to make financial commitments for the proper decommissioning of projects when they are no longer productive. Consequently, taxpayers will not have to pay for the disposal of retired assets in the future.