EDF Renewables Australia has committed to workers in the Hunter and Newcastle Region by announcing a significant collaboration with Australian Unions. CEO, Mr Dave Johnson, said it is one of the many steps he will take to ensure jobs stay local as offshore wind projects are developed in Australia.

"A capable, strong and, most importantly a local workforce is going to be critical for the success of the Newcastle Offshore Wind Project and EDF Renewables Australia acknowledge this from the get-go," Mr Johnson said.

Mr Johnson announced the collaboration at today's Industry Capability Network (ICN) Conference, saying it was a credit to Unions involved, for having a forward-thinking approach and being involved in the conversation, via a letter of collaboration, from the start. He said EDF Renewables Australia submitted an application for a feasibility study and this was one of the many undertakings the internationally respected EDF Group were taking to ensure local content stayed at the top of any agenda.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU), including both the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the Construction Division, have signed a letter of collaboration with the global renewable energy company. The letter outlines the shared commitment to working together to ensure that local workers are equipped with the skills and opportunities to participate in the construction and continuous operation of the proposed offshore wind farm within the Hunter declared zone.

EDF Renewables Australia plans to develop a floating offshore wind farm situated off the coast of Newcastle, close to the Port of Newcastle and existing transmission networks. The Project is expected to bolster the electricity grid supply, particularly as local coal-fired power stations phase out, thereby promoting clean energy and a sustainable future for the region. Once granted approval, the Project is likely to generate a substantial number of jobs throughout the approximately 35-year construction and operational phases, encompassing equipment manufacturing, construction, installation trades, and service providers.

The combined strength of these Unions represents nearly 200,000 workers across various industries, including electrical and communications, power, manufacturing, diving, ferries, towage, offshore oil and gas, port services, shipping, stevedoring, and construction. Their primary objective is to secure safe and sustainable employment opportunities for their members as Australia's energy sector transitions toward renewables.

Dave Johnson, CEO of EDF Renewables Australia, emphasised the importance of consulting with the future workforce of the region, many of whom are looking for job security as the Hunter transitions away from coal production.

"Offshore Wind Projects demand specialised technical skills, so we must begin preparations now to integrate local workers into our team once the Project receives the green light."

EDF Renewables is one of several proponents seeking approval for the construction and operation of an offshore wind farm with the declared zone. Following the issuance of a feasibility license, proponents are required to undergo a rigorous assessment process, including the development of management plans, environmental and ecological studies, community consultation, and obtaining the necessary licenses for wind farm operation. The approval process could extend up to seven years before construction commences.

Mr Johnson highlighted EDF Renewables' successful track record with offshore wind projects in France and Scotland, underscoring the importance of having a skilled local workforce committed to the same safety standards. He said,

"The approval process may seem lengthy on paper, but time flies and preparation is critical when standing up a workforce of this magnitude. The Unions understand their members well, and we were eager to gain their support in developing the specialised skills needed locally."

Glen Williams is the Newcastle Branch Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (a Division of the CFMMEU), and a national Vice-President of the MUA. He explained: ‘It is so important to the local workforce and community that companies like EDF are willing to make commitments to work with unions and the existing workforce for their project. It gives maritime workers in the Port of Newcastle and skilled seafarers and oil and gas workers all over the country the confidence they need that the energy transition will deliver quality employment. It gives them the confidence to talk to their neighbours and their football clubs and fishing clubs to address any concerns they have about this exciting new technology means for them.”

“We’re pleased to be announcing this partnership today because we know a cooperative approach between Unions and employers is the only way Australia is going to achieve a fast and fair transition for our energy system. EDF Renewables has proven it has the capacity to deliver successful sustainable energy projects around the world, and we’re happy to be able to work with them to ensure our members have the skills and opportunities to gain quality, secure employment, should they be successful in gaining a license.” Allen Hicks, NSW/ACT Branch Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union.

Going forwards, next steps for the collaboration will be to identify the skills needed across the project, ensure that the relevant Australian qualifications framework and training facilities are up to scratch, and work through how we can ensure that the workforce is trained and available from the start of construction.

EDF Renewables submitted their feasibility license application to the Offshore Infrastructure Registrar (OIR) on 14 November 2023 and anticipates a response to their application in the middle of 2024. Mr Johnson said that this is when more detailed work will commence, including comprehensive workforce planning.


For more information:

EDF Renewables Brooke Stevenson

Persona Communications

0407 240 211


Peter Moss

0404 895 999

For Union comment

Tom -Harris-Brassil


0401 834 924

About EDF Renewables Australia

EDF Renewables is an international energy company which develops, builds and operates renewable power generation plants. As a major player in the energy transition worldwide, EDF Renewables deploys, within EDF, competitive, responsible and value-creating projects.

In every country, our teams show their commitment to local stakeholders every day, adding their expertise and capacity for innovation to the fight against climate change.

At the end of 2022, EDF Renewables operated a net installed wind and solar capacity of 11.4 GW (18.5 GW gross) worldwide.

Mainly present in Europe and North America, EDF Renewables is pursuing its development by taking a position in promising emerging markets such as: Brazil, China, India, South Africa and in the Middle East. Historically active in onshore wind and photovoltaics, the Company is now strongly positioned on offshore wind and floating wind as well as in new technologies such as energy storage, floating solar and agrivoltaism.

For more information: https://www.edf-re.com.au/

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