Unions have urged federal and state governments to take immediate steps to support the development of an offshore wind industry following the release of groundbreaking research earlier today.

The research highlights the huge potential to create jobs, utilise untapped resources and provide a viable alternative for workers in fossil fuel industries.

The Offshore Wind Energy in Australia report found the nation has high-quality, abundant offshore wind resources close to existing transmission infrastructure, including promising locations near areas with large industrial loads, such as Port Kembla, Newcastle, Gladstone, and south of Perth.

Produced by the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, which brought together expertise from the CSIRO, UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures, industry, and trade unions, the research not only offers detailed analysis of the industry’s potential benefits, but outlines the necessary regulatory reforms.

It found an offshore wind industry, with local manufacturing of components, could support up to 8000 jobs a year, providing a transition for workers currently employed in the offshore oil and gas industries, along with onshore workers in fossil fuel industries.

It also revealed that offshore wind would contribute to the grid by delivering a more diverse electricity supply that compliments other renewable energy sources, providing reliable power when solar and onshore wind is unavailable, along with delivering high capacity factors and large scale generation.

Energy, maritime, and manufacturing unions have urged federal and state governments to immediately act on the report’s findings by establishing a national regulatory regime for the development of offshore renewable energy.

It recommends incorporating offshore wind into energy planning and to recognise offshore wind as a strategic resource for innovation and commercialisation funding.

Maritime Union of Australia national secretary, Paddy Crumlin, said offshore wind requires many of the skills that workers in fossil fuel industries already have and would help them transition to a clean energy future.

“We know that a net zero emission, renewable energy-powered economy is necessary to limit the worst impacts of climate change,” Crumlin said.

“The federal government needs to open its eyes to the enormous renewable energy resources off our coast and ensure that we have a regulatory framework that is robust and fit for purpose, and that federal agencies are playing their role in planning this industry of the future.”

Electrical Trade Union national secretary, Allen Hicks, said offshore wind farms have the potential to generate clean, cheap, reliable power that is close to existing electricity transmission infrastructure, large industrial users, and major population centres.

“These projects are vital to efforts to reduce Australia’s carbon emissions, but we need to ensure they come with jobs that offer equivalent security, wages and investment in education and training,” he said.

The Offshore Wind Energy in Australia report is available here:

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