Offshore renewable energy
The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 (OEI Act) entered into force on 2 June 2022. The framework provides a licensing scheme to enable the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore renewable energy and offshore electricity infrastructure projects in Commonwealth waters.
Under the framework the Offshore Infrastructure Regulator has responsibility for overseeing work health and safety, environmental management, infrastructure integrity and financial security for offshore infrastructure activities. A key focus will be providing guidance and advice to stakeholders on how to comply with regulatory requirements.
The Offshore Infrastructure Regulator is providing specialist technical advice to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, and the Environment and Water to support the assessment of offshore renewable energy proposals under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Proponents are encouraged to engage with the Regulator early on in the project planning phase. If you would like further information about the regime or wish to clarify regulatory requirements contact email@example.com.
The offshore electricity infrastructure regime applies to offshore locations from three nautical miles off the coast to the boundary of Australia’s exclusive economic zone, with coastal waters remaining the responsibility of the adjacent State and Northern Territory governments.
Under the framework, the Minister for Energy makes all licensing decisions. This includes declaring areas suitable for offshore renewable energy infrastructure, both at a commercial scale and for research and development of new and emerging technologies. The declaration of an offshore area is informed through consultation with stakeholders including existing marine users, State and Territory Governments and Australian Government agencies with responsibilities in the marine area.
The framework upholds the principle of shared use of the marine environment providing regulatory and investment certainty through security of tenure and protections for offshore infrastructure.
The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 establishes the Offshore Infrastructure Registrar (the Registrar), who is responsible for administering the licensing scheme, including assessing licence applications, and making recommendations to the Minister. The allocation of licences in a declared area is merit-based and includes an assessment of technical and financial capability and the overall suitability of the project. The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator will support the Registrar.
Regulatory process map
Further information about offshore electricity infrastructure legislative framework is available at industry.gov.au.
The functions of the Regulator will be fully cost recovered through a combination of fees and levies collected from regulated entities. A fully cost recovered regime allows the Regulator to deliver high quality regulatory services and ensure the costs of administering the regulatory framework are borne by industry.
Offshore wind energy is harnessed by taking advantage of the force of sea winds. The wind turns the blades of a turbine around a rotor spinning a generator and creating electricity. For more information see the offshore wind energy brochure.
The global offshore wind sector has undergone rapid expansion in recent years with major advances in technology and cost reductions, making offshore wind an increasingly competitive option for large scale energy generation. Australia possesses world class offshore wind resources with the potential to attract significant investment. See the supply and demand potential for offshore wind energy in Australia for further insights.
Wave and tidal power
Wave power transports energy by ocean surface waves and captures that energy for electricity generation, water desalination, or the pumping of water. Tidal power is a form of hydropower that converts the energy of tides into useful forms of power—namely electricity. Wave and tidal power technologies have received some support but are yet to attract the same level of investment and technological advancement as offshore wind.
The offshore renewables environmental approvals guidance has developed guidance to assist stakeholders in understanding interactions between the licensing and environmental approvals processes of the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act 2021 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Have your say - The Minister for Energy is proposing to declare an area off the coast of Gippsland, Victoria for future offshore renewable energy development and is inviting submissions from the public on this proposal. For more information or to contribute to the consultation process visit Consultation hub | Offshore renewable energy infrastructure area proposal: Bass Strait off Gippsland - Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources The consultation is open from 5 August to 7 October 2022.