The company planning to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of the Illawarra has opened the gate for local businesses to be involved in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of work.
Oceanex has said it would prioritise local businesses in the preparatory work for the turbines, ahead of government approvals expected before the end of the year, with between 35 and 65 per cent of the multi-billion dollar project spent locally.
"We will always apply a local first principle where it's appropriate," Oceanex chief operating officer Emily Scivetti said.
With the project awaiting the Commonwealth to declare areas suitable for offshore wind, early work will largely involve planning and preparatory work, such as geological surveys and environmental studies.
"We want to understand the seabed conditions and we also want to prove our transmission routes into existing grid infrastructure and that will require probably hundreds of millions of dollars in early phase development expenditure," Ms Scivetti said.
The project is expected to cost $10 billion in total, with construction to begin in 2028. The turbines are expected to start turning and supplying power in 2031.
Oceanex estimates the project will create 3000 direct jobs during construction and 300 ongoing jobs over the 30 years of the project.
Once built, the proposed wind farm would be the first floating offshore wind farm in Australia. Similar projects exist internationally, however most offshore wind farms involve a fixed connection to the sea floor.
Oceanex has partnered with Norwegian energy company Equinor to bring the technology to the Illawarra, subject to government approvals.
NSW projects lead for Equinor Thomas Hansen said a key challenge for the project will be finding local partners that can produce at the scale required.
"These are very large structures, you need access to a port with appropriate infrastructure facilities and, of course, you also need manufacturing capability and the ability to assemble the substructure and the tower of the turbine," he said.
At the fabrication stage, there is potential for local involvement in the platforms that support the wind towers as well as final assembly.
Oceanex CEO Andy Evans said as the technology was still new globally, there was the opportunity for local firms to shape how the turbines will be designed.
"This is a really good opportunity for the Illawarra with deep waters to become technology leaders as well. There's no reason why we shouldn't be designing how we implement floating foundations."
The project has launched a website for suppliers to submit their interest. The website will also enable community engagement.
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on the Illawarra Mercury website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. Sign up for a subscription here.