NRF creates ‘great opportunities’ for wind turbine manufacturing

Brandon How

The developer of Australia’s most advanced offshore windfarm is looking for opportunities to manufacture wind turbine components onshore to support Australia’s pipeline of wind energy projects.

Star of the South chief development officer Erin Coldham told a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s transition to a green energy superpower this week that “there are great opportunities for manufacturing components in Australia”.

In particular, Ms Coldham said the firm is in discussions on how the $3 billion renewables and low emissions technologies carve out in the National Reconstruction Fund “might help attract that investment interest to do more… domestic manufacturing”.

“We have been talking with the global supply chain around those opportunities, and that will be something that continues to evolve as projects become more concrete,” she said.

She also noted that the firm is looking at opportunities in New Zealand and other nearby Asian markets.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s ambition is to transform Australia into a renewable energy superpower. He is also advocating for the increased use of critical minerals mined in Australia as a input to local manufacturing.

Following an Energy Ministers’ meeting in December, Queensland energy minister Mick de Brenni announced a National Renewable Energy Supply Chain Action Plan containing efforts to alleviate supply chain pressure and address vulnerabilities in national capabilities.

“Australia’s renewable energy transformation is our opportunity to bring back manufacturing to Australia,” he said at the time.

“There are global shock waves running through supply chains. We see wait times for hydrogen electrolysers out to months and years, overseas concentration of wind and solar components, and soaring demand for critical minerals.”

Work to boost domestic wind turbine component manufacturing is currently underway in Western Australia and Queensland. Wind turbine components are currently being manufactured in Victoria.

Assistant Industry minister Tim Ayres has also previously flagged that he wants wind tower manufacturing set up in New South Wales.

Last October, the Queensland government updated its 10-year Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap to account for its target to get 80 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2035.

This included a commitment to “build capability and capacity for manufacturers to participate in supply chains to manufacture renewable energy technologies”, specifically referring to components for energy generation from wind.

Mr de Brenni noted in November that he is working with Deputy Premier Steven Miles and Queensland industry to build local wind turbine component supply chains.

The Western Australian government in October announced it had commissioned engineering consultancy Aurecon to undertake an independent feasibility study into manufacturing wind turbine components locally.

The study forms part of a $10 million Wind Turbine Manufacturing initiative, which will also fund the work implementing the four key recommendations of a pre-feasibility study completed in 2020.

In last week’s federal Budget, the federal government fulfilled an election commitment by allocating $14.8 million for a Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre to support commercialisation of domestic manufacturing of renewable energy technologies and tighten the link between critical minerals producers and renewable technology manufacturers.

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