Bass Strait off Tasmania's north coast will be the next zone open for a new offshore wind industry in Australia.
The proposed 10,136 square kilometre zone will be 20km from the shoreline at its closest point, Energy Minister Chris Bowen announced on Tuesday.
The potential zone, now open for community feedback, could support thousands of jobs during construction as well as ongoing jobs, he said.
Mr Bowen said the new industry represents a huge opportunity to boost Australian supply chains and local economies, in industries like steel and cement to advanced componentry.
"That is why the government will require projects to demonstrate their commitment to using Australian-manufactured inputs," he said.
Union boss Steve Murphy said prioritising local content, jobs and training meant workers would not miss out as the economy changes.
"Actively requiring that turbines and wind towers are made here means that local workers and their communities see the benefits of good, secure and highly skilled manufacturing jobs," he said.
"Just ask the workers in Portland, Victoria, who lost their jobs when Australia's largest wind farm imported more than 200 wind towers from overseas instead of using a local manufacturer."
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton warned offshore wind, with giant turbines anchored by concrete blocks the size of small ships, would hit the tourism and fishing industries.
"Australians are paying more and more through their power bills because of this madness," Mr Dutton told Sky News.
"We're all in favour of renewable energy, but not at any cost and not where you're destroying jobs and livelihoods and the environment," he said.
Energy expert Greg Bourne, at the independent Climate Council, said Bass Strait winds are a key resource for steady power supply, providing constant power when the sun goes down or onshore winds ease.
But energy analyst Tim Buckley said planning is needed for consecutive developments proposed across Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and Western Australia to cover the high set-up costs for a domestic manufacturing supply chain.
"We need to weigh up the additional costs related to offshore wind construction and see where it makes the most economic sense," he said.
The proposed zone will also be critical to Tasmania's ambition to get to 200 per cent renewables, exporting surplus energy to the mainland, and provide a secure supply of clean energy for local heavy industry.
State Energy and Renewables Minister Nick Duigan said Tasmania was proud of 100 years of hydro development and offshore wind would take that sustainable energy legacy to the next level.
Consultation will include five community drop-in sessions along the north coast of Tasmania from Burnie to Bridport, and at Whitemark on Flinders Island in December, with more sessions in late January 2024.
Offshore wind projects cannot be developed outside of declared zones, and a zone must be declared before individual projects can apply for licensing and environmental approvals.
Community feedback is due by January 31.
Australian Associated Press
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