It was a cooler crowd than the fiery one at the weekend's offshore wind farm forum in Thirroul, but the latest round of public consultation on the issue shows flash points remain as the Illawarra debates turbines at sea.
Concerns of visual impact, job losses, community compensation and impact to marine life dominated at the second of two additional public consultation sessions on the Illawarra Offshore Wind Zone concept, which would cover 1461 square kilometres of ocean 10-30 kilometres offshore.
About 250 people attended UOW's Hope Theatre the afternoon of Wednesday, October 11 to hear from panellists including Ty Christopher, director of UOW's Energy Futures Network, who fielded questions on why green alternatives including solar wouldn't do the job of offshore wind.
Mr Christopher said it remained impossible to meet the energy needs of "the big end of town" - cities and the steelworks - with solar power, partly because this was connected to the lowest-capacity part of the energy grid.
"Even with tonnes and tonnes of solar being generated... in our homes ... it's not possible because of physics. Too much power down too skinny a wire," he said, adding sun-derived power was only possibly for 5-5.5 hours a day.
"The steelworks, if they're going to decarbonise their operations, need multi-gigawatt scale energy and that is what wind turbines, especially large wind turbines, actually provides."
He added that people living in renewable energy zones in Australia's central west regions were as opposed to power lines running across their land as some on the coast were to offshore wind farms.
"I say that very squarely to people that want to propose ... alternatives to offshore wind here ... like 'why can't we just put lots of windmills inland and bring all the power to where it needs to be?'.
"I'd say, 'terrific, how about you run that community town hall with all those people and you explain to them why they should have power lines so that you can have power."
The forums were organised by Cunningham MP Alison Byrnes after federal energy and climate change minister Chris Bowen agreed to extend the consultation period on the issue. Several questions went unasked at the forum, with a queue remaining after the designated two hours had ended.
On Wednesday Ms Byrnes referenced the "misinformation campaign that has been waged, particularly around whales and whale migration" and noted marine mammals experts had found "zero evidence of a connection between whale deaths along the east coast of the USA and wind farming".
The whale question remained a concern for many at the forum, and on online communities.
Holding a 'Whales not wind farms' sign, Illawarra mum Katrina told Wednesday's panel: "I also want to see a clean energy future for myself and for my daughter, however I have deep concerns for marine life in our area ... there are zero wind farms worldwide directly in the middle of a whale migration path".
"How are we going to ensure that the whale migration paths are not affected before we rush into this project?"
Panellist Dr Jodi Edwards, UOW Vice Chancellor Research Fellow, told Wednesday's crowd she had yet to give backing to the concept.
"I'm not ... convinced of off-shore wind without in-depth research," said Dr Edwards, who said she had recently applied to carry out research in the field herself.
"Every organism, every part of marine life - the rocks under the sea - there's been no discussion about how they [the turbines] are going to be put into place, what ... damage to the ocean floor might happen, and we need to research those things. So for me, I can't see how we can even start to argue over whether they should be in there ... until we work out the ramifications of everything that this brings or doesn't bring," she said, to the event's biggest round of applause.
There were questions on whether the energy supply produced by turbines would be affordable, of a potential community dividend, or compensation fund, and whether a fisherman with existing entitlements would be compensated for his potential losses. There were calls for realistic modelling showing the visual impact of the turbines.
A question of compensation for fallen property values, prompted Ms Byrne to encourage the questioner to make a submission.
"I did talk to a lot of people about the property price impacts in Denmark and they had advised that there hadn't been any. And a lot of the reasoning behind that was that the people in Denmark really embrace renewable energy and offshore wind."
There were some jeers and dissatisfied questioners. A long-standing NSW firefighter walked from the microphone mid-response after asking how a fire would be extinguished and the marine environment protected, if one of the turbines were to catch alight.
Addressing potential job losses, South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the region had historically failed to capitalise on its steelworks and "establish ourselves as a manufacturing powerhouse for those renewable energy technologies".
"We almost lost our steel industry in 2015 ... We were right damn centre of a decarbonisation effort," he said.
"This is an easy conversation compared to that one because we were essentially saying to thousands of our members here that your days might be numbered, that what you've done all your lives and your parents have done ... might have to change."
"What happened then was just an absolute tragedy. You had obviously a change of government ... they dropped climate change like a hot potato. We spent 10 years debating whether climate change exists.
"Those 10 years that we lost, we could have been building our manufacturing and our advanced manufacturing in this space to [make] ... the things we now import in bulk.
"Many of you have noted in your Facebook comments - and you're right - we don't make the [turbine] blades here at this point in time. And a lot of the high tech, we simply we missed the boat."
"We've kept our steel industry. We've got an opportunity now to engage our coal miners to do what they do best,... knowing that there will come a time where we won't need the coal because we will move to hydrogen, eventually."
The consultation period has been extended by 30 days to November 15.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.