The Federal Government has announced new legislation to establish a framework for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of offshore electricity transmission and generation projects.

The long awaited legislation, The Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill 2021, is hoping to unblock a wave of investment in offshore electricity generation and transmission projects, with Australia boasting ample opportunities for offshore generation. 

The legislation covers infrastructure projects for offshore electricity transmission cables and offshore renewable energy generation, including offshore wind and ensures co-existence with other users of the offshore area would be managed from the start.

Significant consultation with a wide range of industry and stakeholders has informed the development for the regulatory framework.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said, “An offshore electricity industry in Australia will further strengthen our economy, create jobs and opportunities for Australians, and enhance the delivery of affordable and reliable power. 

“A new offshore industry, enabled by this Bill, represents an important new opportunity for Australia.

“Offshore generation and transmission can deliver significant benefits to all Australians through a more secure and reliable electricity system, and create thousands of new jobs and business opportunities in regional Australia.”

Mr Taylor said the Bill will accelerate a number of projects already under development, such as the Marinus Link transmission line, which will connect the mainland to Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation project.

In addition to the Marinus Link transmission line, passage of this Bill will help progress a number of projects that are already under development including Star of the South off the coast of Gippsland, Victoria, and Sun Cable in the north.

Combined, Marinus Link, Star of the South and Sun Cable are estimated to be worth over $10 billion and are expected to create over 10,000 direct and indirect job opportunities during construction.

The legislation will safeguard the environment and requires project developers to make financial commitments to properly decommission projects when they are no longer productive, ensuring taxpayers won’t pay for removal of any retired assets in the future.

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.

This legislation follows through on a commitment the Federal Government took to the 2019 election. 

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