A group of Gippsland businesses and stakeholders gathered in Sale last week to discuss the opportunity to kickstart a renewable energy sector in the region.
The Australian Renewables Academy (ARA) was established by a group of local Gippsland businesses and stakeholders with the belief that renewable energy can strengthen local communities and the economy through local jobs, embedding skills and creating new ongoing work opportunities.
The scope and size of projects across Gippsland means that the renewable energy sector will be looking for a vast local workforce with a diverse range of skills.
FoE’s YesRenewables Campaigner Wendy Farmer attended the forum, which is a good example of local businesses, training and education providers working together to create new opportunities in Gippsland.
The meeting was held amidst new modelling by the Australian Energy Market Operator indicating that all brown coal fired power stations could close by 2030.
Presenting to the forum, Dr Chris Briggs from University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures said “We are entering an unprecedented boom in renewable energy.” According to Dr Briggs, Infrastructure Australia has identified $218 billion will be invested in committed infrastructure projects including renewable energy in the next few years. There are projections of skills shortages across all infrastructure projects, with an estimated 1 in 3 infrastructure jobs expected to go unfilled.
This represents a challenge for the many new renewable energy projects, which are competing with other industries to fill positions. But it also represents an opportunity to invest in skills, training and workforce planning to make sure young people can move into the wind and solar sectors.
Some of the key Gippsland renewable energy projects that are expected to get started in 2022:
- H2X Global announced its commitment to the manufacturing of Hydrogen fuel cells in Gippsland to be followed by car manufacturing in the region.
- Gippsland will also become home to a Solar Panel recycling facility at Kilmany.
- Perry Bridge Solar Farm A 44 megawatt project supported by Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
- The Fulham Project: A 65 megawatt solar and battery project proposed at Fullham in the Wellington Shire.
- Gippsland Renewable Energy Park: A large-scale renewable energy park proposed in Gippsland, Victoria. Initially consisting of up to 500MW of solar generation and up to 500MWH of battery storage.
These are in addition to the Latrobe Valley’s first wind project, the Delburn wind farm proposed in pine plantation near Boolarra, Thorpdale, Mirboo North and Yinnar, as well as the region's flagship offshore wind project the Star of the South, which are both going through the planning scheme.
It's an exciting time for the establishment of wind and solar for the region: renewable energy projects proposed for Gippsland are key puzzle pieces for the energy transition that is already underway.