Speech to Asia Pacific Offshore Wind and Green Hydrogen Summit
Wherever you have travelled from to be here, we all gather here today on the lands of the Wurundjeri people.
I acknowledge their unbroken connection to these lands for more than 2000 generations.
We acknowledge in the words of Oodgeroo Noonuccal, "this land was ours, you may recall, before you came along at all."
This of course also needs to be acknowledged in our Constitution.
We will have the important chance to do this later this year.
And to provide a Voice to Parliament for our First Peoples.
So that no decision is taken for our First Nations people, without our First Nations people.
I’d also like to acknowledge the importance of genuine and constructive consultation and dialogue with the traditional owners of our lands on transmission and generation projects, and the commitment of my government to improve this genuine engagement.
Australia and offshore wind – the investment potential
I’m delighted to be here at the inaugural APAC Offshore Wind and Green Hydrogen Summit 2023, the very first of its kind to be held in the Asia Pacific region.
And I’m glad you have chosen Melbourne.
Here in Victoria you have an example of a federal government and a state government working hand in glove on our joint endeavour to develop an offshore wind industry.
I know Minister D’Ambrosio opened your conference this morning, and you’ll find our approaches very aligned.
I'm delighted to be here for a couple of other reasons.
I've been looking forward to this Conference since I first heard Stewart Mullin and David Lenti talking about it on the Offshore Wind Podcast several months ago.
You see, I'm a bit of an offshore wind nerd, so I am a loyal listener of the podcast.
Stewart manages to get a plug of his native Australia in every episode.
Well Stewart, you won't need to work hard to get us in to the next episode.
Because we're giving you plenty to talk about.
That's another reason I'm delighted to be here.
To update you on our progress.
Our progress creating a brand-new Australian industry from scratch.
Something not everyone gets to do, but we are and making good progress in doing so.
We aren't just building an industry from scratch.
We are building an industry in which we want to be a world leader.
Some may say that's an ambitious call for a nation with currently zero offshore wind installations.
Ambitious yes, but also achievable.
We have the – until now – untapped potential.
Potential our government is now harnessing.
Australia is the world’s largest island, and that comes with a lot of coast, and a lot of wind.
It’s staggering to look at the international charts and see a “zero” next to Australia’s current offshore wind installations.
Especially when, as the 2022 Global Wind Report found, Australia’s overall offshore wind potential is estimated at around 4,963GW.
And the 2023 Report noted Australia already has a pipeline of around 50GW.
Harnessing just a small proportion of that potential will play a significant role in our ambition to become a renewable energy powerhouse.
We’re of course part of a much bigger global economic ecosystem.
The IEA estimates renewable energy will provide 98 per cent of the 2,518 terawatt hours of electricity generation to be added between 2022 and 2025.
And a lot of this will be wind.
It took us almost 40 years to reach 1 terawatt of installed wind energy capacity this year –
The next terawatt will take less than a decade.
And as I said we want to be part of this picture.
Let me give you an example of the potential.
You all know in this room what a good job the Netherlands is doing on their transition.
I was delighted to be there in January to see my friend Rob Jetten to discussion collaboration on green hydrogen, on which I’ll say more in a few minutes.
The Netherlands has around 451 km of coastline.
Australia has over 30,000 km.
The Netherlands has 2829 MW of offshore wind installed.
Australia has none.
That’s why developing the framework and capitalising on our potential has been a key priority for the Australian Government.
12 months ago we announced the first steps in creating a new renewable energy industry, with the announcement of six proposed regions with world-class offshore wind energy potential.
I have declared the first two zones. Gippsland and Hunter.
We’ve begun consultation on the next two zones - Illawarra and the Southern Ocean region.
And today, I’m pleased to announce the next steps.
Firstly – the Bass Strait region, off the Tasmanian Coast.
Consultation for this region will start at the beginning of October.
Secondly, the Perth/Bunbury region off the coast of Western Australia.
I announce today the consultation will begin on this zone in November.
This puts us firmly on track to have all six areas declared by the first half of next year.
I’m providing this roadmap today because I know it will give industry certainty about the immediate path ahead.
It will also give visibility to communities about the conversations coming up.
These are important conversations and I heard the chief executive talk about the importance of community consultation.
And I wholeheartedly agree.
Community consultation is critical to our success.
It’s not a rubber stamp process – it's not a fig leaf.
This is genuine conversation, listening to different perspectives, and making sure the balance right.
The two zones I have declared so far: Gippsland and Hunter, both have changed from the originally proposed zones as a result of community consultation. This is as it should be. It is the process working.
I want to say this to you clearly and frankly too: our government consultation is better and smoother if proponents have engaged in real, respectful and informed consultations with communities.
Later this year, Australia's Energy Infrastructure Commissioner will be publishing the first guide for communities and developers on how best to engage in Australia.
This will provide more guidance to developers and clearly lay out the process to communities for consultation.
We’ve been able to bring this work forward because of our Government’s increased investment in the development of the Australian offshore wind industry.
Australia has some of the best offshore wind resources anywhere in the world, and we’re pleased to be open for business.
But I also want to be clear with you about this. We’re interested in renewable energy.
We’re also interested in jobs, local content and economic development as well as supply chain.
I’m not here to pretend to you that Australia can fulfil all the entire offshore wind supply chain.
But we can fulfil a role increasingly in that supply chain and we want to see real economic dividends.
Proponents with proper plans for local economic content, job creation and growth will have the attention and co-operation of the Government.
This is especially the case for our regions.
Take our first offshore wind zone for example.
Gippsland is a couple of hours from here.
It’s a beautiful part of the world.
It’s also home to Victoria’s coal fired power stations.
Power stations that won’t be replaced with new ones when they close.
It is no co-incidence that we chose Gippsland as our first offshore wind zone.
It’s rich in wind.
We want it to be rich in jobs too.
Not just jobs for existing coal fired power station workers. But for their kids who want to stay in the region.
Offshore wind is an important part of that vision and I invite offshore wind proponents to really focus on the economic dividend for the regions in which they seek to be located.
Hydrogen and headstart
But when it comes to new industries, our interest doesn't start and end at offshore wind.
Offshore wind will be critical to power new industries like green hydrogen.
Global demand for renewable hydrogen is growing rapidly and is projected to reach around 500 million tonnes per year by 2050.
And Australia currently hosts about 40 per cent of the pipeline of world hydrogen projects.
We are proud of that. But we want to see that pipeline reach FID and become a reality.
By 2050, Australia’s hydrogen industry could generate $50 billion in additional GDP and create over 16,000 jobs, as well as an additional 13,000 jobs from the construction of renewable energy infrastructure to power the production of green hydrogen.
It’s why we allocated a down payment of $2 billion towards the Headstart program - to create a local hydrogen industry by underwriting some of the world's largest electrolyser deployments.
Headstart is the most significant government investment in Australia’s hydrogen industry to date – and a clear and calculable signal of the government’s support and determination to grow this industry.
We know that the IRA and other initiatives elsewhere mean Australia needs to act to stay in the game, and that's exactly what we intend to do.
We’re in a fiercely competitive global landscape for early investments in green hydrogen, and this critical investment keeps Australia in the race to be a global leader.
To give you an update on where we are at with the Hydrogen Headstart program -
We announced the funding in the May Budget this year, and have been consulting on the design parameters since.
We’ve had very strong engagement on the design of the program, from project developers, financiers, industry bodies, and engineering firms.
We’ve received 114 written submissions, along with 400 participants in workshops held in Sydney, Perth and elsewhere and online by my Department and Australia's Renewable Energy Agency - ARENA.
While we are still going through the finer detail of each submission, we were very pleased by the response and early signs indicate that the Government's proposed Program design is close to the mark.
Industry is broadly happy with the approach, and most of the proposed specifications were well received.
The industry highlighted the effect that the US Inflation Reduction Act’s funding model has had on developing projects in Australia – and we recognise that to be very real.
We’ve heard clearly the preference for a shorter, sharper Expressions of Interest process – while allowing more time for full applications, to firm up offtake applications and project financing.
And I've also heard clearly that complex hydrogen projects will need flexibility through the assessment process and over time to manage changes such as production volumes.
With the consultation period now complete, the Government is working to refine the design of the program before I intend to open funding applications later this year.
Again, this is a regional story. A big part of Australia's competitive offering in green hydrogen not in our cities but in our regions - ready to go workforce and adaptable infrastructure, regions which have been powering the world and are ripe for renewable investment.
We have regions with enormous potential to make and produce green hydrogen, and to be renewable energy export and manufacturing hubs for Australia and the world.
For example - the Hunter Valley in NSW.
Just as Gippsland is our first offshore wind zone, Hunter is our first Green Hydrogen hub.
A vein of coal mines runs through the region. It is a very traditional coal town, but the local economy is in transition as the shift to renewables gains momentum.
Our Government is actively supporting these regions in transition and a new federal agency has been set up with this task - the Net Zero Authority.
With a resources presence comes heavy industry - and clear opportunities to decarbonise.
For example, we are investing $70 million in the Hunter Valley Hydrogen Hub with Origin Energy and Orica – using hydrogen to decarbonise ammonia manufacturing, heavy vehicles and public transport.
We are investing $100 million to upgrade and support the Port of Newcastle’s hydrogen readiness program – it is the largest coal export port in the world but it's transitioning - and establishing a clean energy precinct with shared infrastructure for hydrogen and ammonia production, storage, and shipping.
And we are also working with the New South Wales Government and engineering experts Arup to understand broader opportunities to develop a green hydrogen ecosystem in the Hunter - including by leveraging the potential of the Hunter Power Project and other new hydrogen industry projects.
Our regions are at the heart of our renewable generation story - and they will be at the heart of global renewable investment.
I've spoken a lot today about what the Australian Government is doing, not just to catch up to the pack, but to lead it.
Australia is, to be honest, a bit like the kid who forgot to study for an exam early in the process and is pulling all night study sessions to catch up.
We have started our renewable transformation very late. But know we are working 24/7 to catch up.
We are acutely aware of the challenges - including supply chain, work force and social license.
But we also know that our natural advantages in critical minerals and strategic manufacturing will play an important role in not just importing key components, but building more and more of them here as well.
We are investing heavily in renewables as a Government.
But the bulk of the capital needed will come from the private sector.
Hence we are building a stable, and warmly welcoming policy environment for renewable investment.
We need you.
We need your capital.
We need your investment.
We need your experience.
And we can provide our resources. Our natural advantage. And our highly skilled workforce.
If I left you with one message today, I want it to be this.
The Australian Government is deadly serious about our journey to become a renewable energy superpower.
And we want to partner with you to make it a reality.
We’ve made a good start.
But there is so much more to do.
So together let’s get on with it.