Skyborn Renewables is currently developing the “Myalup Offshore Windfarm” project. Located offshore between Bunbury and Mandurah. This project has a target capacity of around 1.9 Gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy.
The first community information sessions were held in late November at the Bunbury Dolphin Centre, Binningup Country Club, and Mandurah Bowling and Recreational Facility. The following FAQ provides answers to the most common questions received during these community sessions. You can learn more about the project via this website.
Will there be more community information sessions I can attend?
Yes. It will be several years before environmental studies are completed. Skyborn Renewables is keeping the community informed via newsletter and in person community information sessions throughout the project. A Community Reference Group will be established and details of the Community Reference Group, including how to apply will be available through the course of 2023. Sign up to the project newsletter to keep informed here.
How will the next community information sessions be advertised?
These sessions will be advertised in local media, via letterbox drop, and through the project website. Sign up to the project newsletter to keep informed of the dates of upcoming community information sessions and other project news here.
What format will these sessions take?
These sessions will be run as a mix of drop-in sessions, and online presentations. Drop-in sessions are designed to provide a forum for all voices to be heard and for community members to ask their questions in a one-on-one setting. Addititionally, online presentations will be held as a means to provide a COVID safe forum, and to allow attendance for those who may work out of the area.
Why is there a need to place wind turbines offshore?
With the planned closure of many local coal-fired power stations in the coming decade, there is a lot of power generation capacity that will need to be replaced. The wind offshore is generally stronger, more consistent, and less turbulent, than onshore. This means that larger, more powerful turbines can be built closer to where this power generation is needed. Offshore wind is one of the only clean energy options that can be deployed at the scale required, in the location required, to both power local homes and support the growth of local industry.
How close will the turbines be to the shore?
The closest that any turbines would be installed is at the border of State and Commonwealth waters 5.5 km off the coast.
What is the current stage of the project?
The project is at the feasibility stage. The proposed study area in State waters has been referred to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and the EPA published the Environmental Scoping Document (ESD) on 30 November 2021. This Environmental Scoping Document for the proposed development in State waters refers to either 37 turbines at a capacity of 8MW, or 20 turbines at a capacity of 15MW. At the time of the EPA Referral, the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act (OEI Act) was not in place and therefore the proposed State waters development study area and associated publicly available documents do not take the proposed Commonwealth expansion into consideration. While the total number of turbines is likely to differ until environmental and feasibility studies have been completed over the next 3-4 years, it is currently proposed to install 96 turbines with a capacity of 17MW in Commonwealth waters (between 5.5 kms and 21 kms from the coast), and 15 turbines with a capacity of 17MW in State waters (at 5.5 km from the coast).
What is the approvals pathway for the project?
As the project area crosses both State and Commonwealth waters, separate State and Commonwealth approvals will be required. The environmental study requirements for State waters have already been set by the Western Australian EPA in the ESD and are available for download on the project website. Study requirements will be set by the Commonwealth once the Bunbury area has been announced as a declared offshore wind zone and a feasibility licence for the project area has been awarded. Comprehensive environmental studies will be conducted in both State and Commonwealth waters. For the Commonwealth waters these will form part of an Environmental Impact Statement, for the State waters these will form part of an Environmental Review Document.
How many turbines will there be?
This will depend on a number of factors including; the area declared open for offshore wind in Commonwealth waters, the results of environmental studies, detailed grid connection studies, and the final turbine size. The project is currently proposed to be around 1.9GW which would total 111 x 17MW wind turbines. As newer turbines become more powerful, fewer will be needed to reach this capacity. By the time that the turbines are ordered, it’s possible that more powerful turbines will be available, resulting in fewer turbines overall for the same amount of renewable energy generated.
Is this windfarm the largest currently proposed in Australia?
No. There are several offshore wind projects proposed both in Western Australia and other States of Australia with a capacity exceeding the proposed 1.9GW for the Myalup Offshore Windfarm.
Has the project received any government subsidies?
No. The project has not received or applied to receive any government subsidies.
What onshore facilities will form part of the project?
Underground cables will carry the power from the offshore windfarm’s subsea cables to the land several meters underneath the beach. The power cables are planned to continue underground until the western side of Old Coast Highway. From this point power may travel via overhead transmission lines to the proposed grid connection point at the Kemerton substation.
Will there be offshore substations?
The project will include two or more offshore substations depending on the final design. The final locations will be determined through the environmental review and design process.
Will we hear the turbines from the shore?
While some noise is created by the ‘swishing’ of blades against the wind, this is very unlikely to be audible from the shore. Nevertheless, any potential noise impact will be the subject of rigorous third-party assessment as part of the feasibility studies and the planning approval process.
Will we be able to see the turbines from the shore?
The turbines will be able to be seen on the horizon from the shore. Although, a key design consideration for Myalup Offshore Wind Farm is minimizing the visual impact of the wind farm. To this end, the layout and the color of the turbines will be designed to minimize their visual impact and ensure that they blend in with the natural surroundings as much as possible. Visual impacts will be modelled throughout the design process as the turbine layout is finalized and made available for public review.
Will the project be lit at night, if so what type of lighting?
Some lighting to assist navigation is likely to be required. Requirements and specifications will be determined through discussions with the approving authorities based on the final designs. Where there are offshore substations, short periods of operational lighting may be required to conduct scheduled or unscheduled maintenance. As the environmental studies progress and inform the project layout and designs, project lighting will be modelled such that the final design minimizes visual impacts from any lighting that is required.
Will the turbines impact birdlife?
The impacts of the offshore wind farm design on local bird populations will be studied by third-party experts in the project’s environmental impact assessments before the design is finalized. Where it is identified that there is the potential for the wind farm to impact local bird populations the wind farm design will be modified accordingly.
Will the turbines impact marine life?
The biggest threat to marine ecosystems globally is climate change. Renewable technologies such as offshore wind farms support the reduction of climate change and it’s impact on the marine ecosystem. The potential impact of the offshore windfarm to the marine ecosystem will be assessed and the global experience will be taken into consideration in order to take steps to minimize the impact on wildlife and habitats at every stage of the project, including comprehensive research, environmental surveys, rigorous assessments, monitoring and modelling.
Would boating and fishing be excluded from the wind farm project area?
No. The turbines are typically spaced at around 1 km intervals and are expected to take up less than 1% of the total project area. This provides room for many vessels to navigate through the array including most commercial and recreational fishing vessels, and leisure craft. During construction there may be temporary restrictions on navigation around individual turbines especially where cranes are operating. During operations a reasonable safety zone of around 50 m may be requested around turbines. We are working with regulators to ensure that any safety zones are reasonable and do not go further than necessary.
How will the windfarm affect the subsea environment and the Bouvard reef?
Over the coming years detailed subsea studies and modelling will be conducted by third-party experts to map marine habitats and design a windfarm that minimizes any potential impacts on the subsea environment, benthic habitats, and the Bouvard reef system. This will include modelling of the effects of construction, subsea noise, and electromagnetic fields on the marine environment, and minimizing any impacts through the design process.
Will beach access be restricted by the project?
No. The project will not restrict beach access.
Will there be power cables on the beach?
No. Power cables at the shore crossing would be buried several meters underneath the beach.
Will there be artificial reef structures?
The wind turbine structures themselves may act as artificial reef structures and the project team is actively investigating potential habitat enhancement values.
Will the project cause beach erosion?
Local coastal processes including erosion will the subject of detailed studies and modelling in the coming years to ensure a project design that does not exacerbate beach erosion.
How large is the project study area, and how much of this is taken up by project infrastructure?
The current study area is comprised of approximately 140 km2 for the State waters and onshore study areas, and 451 km2 for a proposed Commonwealth expansion once the Bunbury region becomes a declared zone under the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Act. The Federal Minister of Energy is likely to announce a declared zone for Bunbury in mid-2024.
The wind turbines themselves are expected to take up less than 1% of the total area under study. When all offshore infrastructure including subsea cables is factored in, the total offshore infrastructure footprint is expected to be around 2% of the total offshore study area.
How high will the towers be?
The tower height will depend on the turbines size. Assuming a 17MW turbine, the tower would be around 150 m high.
What is the experience of Skyborn Renewables? Have the management team been involved in offshore wind and renewable energy projects previously?
Skyborn Renewables was formerly known as wpd offshore, and is a company with over 20-years experience in offshore wind construction and operation. The company was recently renamed after being acquired by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). Skyborn has successfully built and is already operating 3 offshore wind projects internationally. Construction is currently progressing on a further 3 projects, and a total of 10 projects have received environmental approvals. Skyborn employ over 300 offshore offshore wind experts and our management team is made up of executives with significant offshore wind experience.
What happens to the project at the end of its life?
At the end of the project life the project will be decommissioned, the turbines and substations will be disassembled and recycled.
Will local contractors be preferenced for installation and maintenance?
Yes. We are committed to maximizing opportunities for locals wherever possible.
Is there any commitment to training locals?
We estimate the operation of this project will create up to 160 direct and ongoing jobs for the region. We are already in discussions with local training providers about how we can best to support the upskilling of locals to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Myalup Offshore Windfarm project.
Will there be other benefits for the local community?
Yes. In addition to local jobs and direct investment in the local economy Skyborn will set up a community benefit fund once the project feasibility is confirmed. How this money will be spent on the local community will be decided through the Community Reference Group.
Got more questions or want to have your say? Get in touch here.