Press conference at Bell Bay, Tasmania

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, thanks for coming everyone. Today is a big day for Tasmania and Australia's renewable energy future. Tasmania is a great powerhouse of renewable energy, but I believe its best days are ahead of it when it comes to generating clean, green energy for themselves, for Tasmania, and for Australia as well.

Now an important part of our renewable energy future is offshore wind. We are the world's largest island, and we have no offshore wind, and we've been working as a government to fix that. And the next stage today is beginning the consultation about an offshore wind zone for the Bass Strait.

The Bass Strait is a very windy place. It can generate wind all through the day and all through the night, and that means it can generate power all through the day and the night as well.

And this offshore wind zone, if we proceed, will be a very important part of Australia's and Tasmania's energy future, and will create a lot of good, well paying jobs for Tasmanians; 16,000 jobs in construction, 8,000 jobs ongoing, if we proceed with the full zone, 28 gigawatts of electricity could be generated from this site.

So this is an important day and important step forward. But it's also important we get the consultation right. Today I'm opening consultation on the Bass Strait Offshore Wind Zone. I want to hear community views. There will be legitimate questions and concerns, about amenity, about what they'll look like, about fishing, about whales, about bird migration, about all those issues, and that's fair enough.

And we'll be holding community drop in and information sessions right across the north of Tasmania in the affected area. We'll be opening submissions today and they'll be open till the end of January. I want to give people plenty of time to have their say, to think about the issues, till the end of January.

Then I'll consider the submissions, consider the issues raised, and then look to declare a final zone, then open expressions of interest for feasibility licences, and then in due course commercial licences, and then environmental approvals.

So there will be a lot of opportunities for people to have their say. But this is a good day for jobs for Tasmania, and a good day for Tasmanian energy. Everybody needs renewable energy, Tasmania as much as anyone else, and I've been delighted to work with Nick Duigan on this, and I welcome the support of the Tasmanian Government.

This has been an important project, and it will be an important project for the future of Tasmania, Tasmanian jobs and Tasmanian renewable energy. I'm very glad to be opening up the consultation today. Look forward to genuine community feedback, weigh up the issues, and I look forward to creating a lot of jobs, a lot of construction jobs, a lot of good, well paying maintenance jobs going forward, as well as a lot of renewable, clean green energy for Tasmania as well. Nick.

NICK DUIGAN: Thank you, Minister, and I've got to say what a great pleasure it is to stand here in Bell Bay for this announcement as we begin the consultation process for offshore wind in Bass Strait.

I would acknowledge the work of Minister Bowen, who has been a greater supporter of the Tasmanian Government's dreams and aspirations around renewable energy in this space, and I think he understands better than most what the potential that lies out in Bass Strait, not only for generating clean, green renewable energy, but also, what it could mean for the people of Tasmania with meaningful jobs and employment opportunities going forward, thousands of jobs.

The scale of this is immense. Bass Strait is a world class wind resource, it is demonstrating that for us here today, and we want to unlock what that opportunity means for this state, and we want to continue to do that and to do those things in order to keep people working here, to grow our economy, but also   and this is important   to keep Tasmania's power prices amongst the lowest, if not the lowest in the entire nation.

Tasmania is a powerhouse in renewable energy. We have a very proud hundred year tradition in generating and using renewable energy, and this goes a long way to building on that legacy. So a great pleasure for me to stand here today.

CHRIS BOWEN: Thanks, Nick. Over to you.

PAUL FENTER: My name is Paul Fenter, I'm the General Manager at Liberty Bell Bay. This is a great announcement for our business.

JOURNALIST: Paul, sorry, can you face your body close to the mics?

PAUL FENTER: Yep, like that?

JOURNALIST: And can you say your say and spell your first and last name, Paul, what's the last name?


PAUL FENTER: G'day, my name is Paul Fenter, I am the general manager at Liberty Bell Bay. This is a great announcement for our business. Our business is highly dependent on renewable power, and our growth and sustainability of our business is highly dependent on how do we grow this business going forward, so this is a great announcement that we are looking forward to work with the Government in terms of the needs for our business going forward.

JOURNALIST: What does it mean for Liberty?

PAUL FENTER: Liberty has growth aspirations, our aspirations to remain sustainable as a business is highly dependent on our ability to grow, and without that growth and with finite energy that's currently available, that is fairly limited now for us currently to grow. And that's why it's important for us to have that ability to grow.

JOURNALIST: Will some of the bits be manufactured here?

PAUL FENTER: Not on this site. This site is primarily on alloy producer, so we don't produce the elements that would go into the wind farms specifically. We do have a lot of slag that could be used in the construction, so that's potential.

JOURNALIST: A lot of what, sorry?

PAUL FENTER: Slag, stuff that you're standing on at the moment.

SPEAKER: Waste material.


SPEAKER: Great, thanks Paul. We'll go back to the Minister.

CHRIS BOWEN: Yes, questions.

JOURNALIST: Okay. Can you tell us the nuts and bolts of this project? How much is it worth, where will it be, how big are these things? Tell us all of it.

CHRIS BOWEN: I'll show you the map in a moment, if you like, we can look at that separately. 10,000 square kilometres is the area. It starts at, at its closest 20kms offshore, in some instances further offshore, but at its closest 20kms. 20kms on a good day, on a clear day, you have to sort of really strain to see them, but you can see them, many days you wouldn't see them at all. These are the sorts of issues that we'll consult.

Now when I've declared the zone, after consultation, that's when we call for expressions of interest, that's when we know how many applicants we have, they'll apply to run wind farms within the zone in various parts. I'm about to award the first feasibility licences for Gippsland, just to the North of Bass Strait, for example, an area that's been open and ahead of this area for some time. So all that process is to come.

Just on your question before about, you know, will we make some of these things here? I want to, not on this side in particular, but I want to see more of our wind infrastructure being made in Australia, whether it's turbines, blades or towers.

I believe we have a future, not just making renewable energy, but making the things that make renewable energy. And one of the things that I'll consider when I come to award feasibility licences is local content plans, local benefit plans, community benefit, national interest.

We're starting an industry from scratch. There is no offshore wind industry in Australia at all. So when you're starting an industry from scratch, you've got a lot to work with, you've got challenges, but you've got a lot to work with as well, and when you're starting an industry from scratch, I want to see these guys benefit, I want to see workers across Tasmania benefit as well.

JOURNALIST: Why go offshore? What are the benefits?

CHRIS BOWEN: There's a number of benefits. One, we're talking a big area, 10,000 square kilometres. I think if we're announcing a 10,000 square kilometre onshore wind zone today, we might have a bit of incoming flack. So 10,000 square kilometres gives you a lot of room to move.

Secondly, it tends to be windier offshore than onshore, and it tends to be windier at different times than onshore.

So when you're moving to renewable grid, you need to make sure your various elements are supporting each other. We have solar, you know, from mid morning to late afternoon, pumping a lot of energy in its system. Late afternoon the solar stops, that's when it's very good, if wind is contributing, and offshore wind in particular, very windy at night, contributing more.

Offshore wind tends to be more reliable, indeed the International Energy Agency calls it "dispatchable renewable". It's the only form of dispatchable renewable, i.e., it's running all the time, and it's windier.

One turn of one offshore wind turbine will generate as much energy as the solar panels on your roof do all day. That's one turn. And they turn 15 times a minute, and we're talking hundreds of turbines. It's a lot of energy, 28 gigawatts out there with the full potential of the zone.

JOURNALIST: Where will all that energy go? Will it go to us, or Victoria, where will it be used?

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, it's closely linked to our ongoing discussions about Marinus 2, Marinus Cable 2. It will feed into Tasmania. Now Tasmania needs more energy, I think we'd all agree. This place is going to expand, and you're going to create good industrial jobs, and we need energy security for Tasmania, so it will feed into Tasmania. That's important.

Tasmania is actually the highest energy users per capita in the country, and we need to work with the Tasmanian government to generate more energy for Tasmanians. Tasmania exports and imports energy at various times of the year. And then, of course, it opens up also the opportunity for Tasmania to export its energy, the surplus energy, to the mainland, creating money and jobs for Tasmanians as it does so.

JOURNALIST: What is the rough timeline from here, obviously January 31 is when the when the submissions close. What is the timeline?

CHRIS BOWEN: So submissions close January 31. I don't declare the zone on February 1. You know, I want to take a bit of time to read through all the submissions, consider all the issues, make changes, work out, you know, what submissions have really made a solid case and then how we will deal with that. That can take a month or so.

Then we open up expressions of interest. That takes a couple of months. You've got to give people time to put in very detailed expressions of interest. Then I take a couple of months to work those through and determine who gets a feasibility licence and what conditions to put on it. Then they move to commercial licence stage, then they move to environmental approval stage.

We are not talking about any power before 2030. It takes some time for that process. And then they've got to start construction, and you know, given the international supply chain. But 2030s going to come around sooner than you think. You know, it is tomorrow in terms of building energy infrastructure, so hence we're getting on with the job now of getting everything ready so we can start generating clean, renewable, cheaper energy from 2030 ish onwards.

JOURNALIST: This is sort of an impossible question, but how much do you think this will cost?

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, that's up to the proponents. That's up to the people who want to build the wind farms. They will put their bids together, and they will make it work, and they'll bid in, and the best bids will win.

JOURNALIST: Do we have a rough idea?

CHRIS BOWEN: No, no, it's a commercial decision, it's not something that the Government will be funding. It's something for the   we are generating the opportunity for the private sector to come in, and of course they'll be able to apply for support under various existing renewable energy schemes, but this is not something the Government's going to build.

JOURNALIST: Do we know theoretically how many wind turbines could exist in that zone?

CHRIS BOWEN: Well, with that zone, you could be looking to up to 14 separate farms. Now, obviously they'll have, you know, various numbers of turbines within those farms, several hundred, but it really depends on the expressions of interest, and indeed, it depends on the changes we might make after consultation.

JOURNALIST: Great, thanks, Mr Bowen. Mr Duigan, any questions for him? Yes? No? No? No?  No questions?

JOURNALIST: We were going to ask, has there been any measures considered to protect migratory birds in the Bass Strait?

CHRIS BOWEN: That's for me.

NICK DUIGAN: Absolutely.

CHRIS BOWEN: Yes. So we've avoided, in declaring, or in beginning the process of declaring the zone, what we know are the most obvious migratory bird zones. But people are free to make submissions to say that there are other issues, other birds we need to take into account, and we will take them into account.

So, for example, when I came to declare the Hunter zone, we put out an area, people raised with me through the process the breeding areas of the Gould's petrel on a particular island, and I excluded that island from the zone. So they're the sorts of issues we can work through, and then of course they'll also need to be dealt with at environmental approval stage.

But there are known migratory bird corridors that we have already avoided as part of this process.

JOURNALIST: Yep. And so how does it fit with the existing Memorandum of Understanding with the Bass Offshore Winds Energy Project?

CHRIS BOWEN: I think that's a Tasmanian MOU.


CHRIS BOWEN: But I would say that, you know, that could then proceed under this zone, but that's a particular project which has been in discussion with the Tasmanian Government.

NICK DUIGAN: So that is a particular project, and I have been discussing this announcement with a number of proponents who are very keen to see this progress, and they are one of those proponents, and we'll, I think, be hearing more from our prospective offshore wind energy proponents in the coming weeks and months as they line up to put their best foot forward into generating more renewable energy for Tasmania. It's what we want.

JOURNALIST: Where are the other - so Gippsland has one, Tassie will have another - where are the others?

CHRIS BOWEN: So Gippsland has been declared, Hunter has been declared. Illawarra and Southern Ocean are currently up for consultation, that's off Wollongong and off Portland, and this is the next zone, and then following this will be Bunbury, Perth. So six.

JOURNALIST: This could power in the country though, right?

CHRIS BOWEN: Yes, yes.

JOURNALIST: That's pretty cool.

CHRIS BOWEN: It's pretty cool.

JOURNALIST: Why haven't we done this before?

CHRIS BOWEN: Good question. We've been fiddling around for a decade or so in Australia with renewable energy. We've come in determined to get on with the job.

JOURNALIST: Does this rely on Marinus Link?

CHRIS BOWEN: It doesn't rely on Marinus Link 1; it would be related to Marinus Link 2. But you know, not   I wouldn't say it relies on it, I'd say they're related projects.