January 8 (Renewables Now) - Australia is working on a regulatory framework to enable the exploration, construction, operation and decommissioning of clean marine energy technologies such as, but not limited to, offshore wind.
The Aussie government has published a discussion paper and process map that outlines the proposal. It is awaiting feedback by February 28, with plans to hold information sessions in Perth and Melbourne in mid-February.
The framework is intended to be technology-neutral and concerns both demonstration and commercial projects. It envisages awarding licences on a competitive basis.
The process of consultation and negotiation for a proposed project will begin with the energy minister considering suitable areas for such developments. Developers that win a Feasibility Licence will have up to five years to ensure that they can manage safety and environmental risks and impacts. During that period, they need to finalise exploration activities and project design, as well as to conduct detailed consultation with other users and regulators. If successful, they can apply for a Commercial Licence that gives rights for a commercial offshore clean energy activity for an initial term of up to 30 years. The said licence could be renewed indefinitely.
The government will also be awarding non-exclusive Non-Commercial Licences, limited to 10 years.
Any proponent that wishes to take part in the offshore clean energy infrastructure regime must first apply for pre-qualification so that the government can assess their suitability.