The renewables transition holds great promise, according to CWP Renewables CEO Jason Willoughby.

Written by Squadron Energy |

A clear vision is forming for Australia, one that can bring substantial change for the better. Not only are we working to rapidly transition to renewable energy and reach our net zero emissions targets, we also have the chance to deliver something even greater.

There is a mammoth challenge ahead of the renewables industry. We are being asked to deliver the equivalent of a 290 MW wind farm every month for the next 90 months. That is what is required in wind generation alone under the step change scenario of AEMO’s 2022 Integrated System Plan. Making this a reality will help us reach 80% renewables and meet the legislated 43% emissions reduction target by 2030.

What is forming now is a combination of levers which can offer us a once in generation chance to deliver regional economic development at scale.

As we work to address how we’ll manage supply chains, resourcing and the speed of our required execution, we have the chance to create a lasting legacy in regional communities nationwide.

For example, in New South Wales, designated Renewable Energy Zones will not only bring together transmission, generation and firming projects to support increased renewable generation. They will create regional hubs which will enable skills expansion, career progression and local supply chain development.

These are all critical elements to supporting vibrant regional hubs which empower communities to grow and thrive. Where there is established ongoing skilled employment, schools flourish, businesses prosper and major infrastructure support follows.

The first designated REZ in NSW is the Central-West Orana REZ. The 20,000 square kilometre zone includes the towns of Dubbo, Dunedoo, Wellington and Mudgee. It’s expected to support 3 GW of new network capacity in the coming years, with generation registrations of interest for the REZ outstripping the needed capacity by a factor of almost 10.

This coordinated approach, teamed with high levels of interest and stringent tender requirements, will facilitate regional rejuvenation where the green shoots are already showing.

In recognition of the need to upskill workers, we’ve sponsored local workers in the Central West to complete a Certificate IV in Workplace Health and Safety at Wellington TAFE.

There’s no requirement to already work in renewables or be connected to our projects. In fact, we encouraged community members from across the spectrum to sign up to the course. Safety is a core value for us and we know the whole community benefits when everyone has enhanced safety skills and knowledge. When everyone is kept safe at work, the whole local economy benefits.

In recognition of the importance of delivering these local economic benefits, we’ve created a role of Regional Economic Development Lead. The role will spearhead our efforts to create lasting new economic opportunities in the regions we develop and operate.

In addition, we are targeting people with valuable transferrable skills to consider a transition across to renewables. Many of our own people have successfully moved across from industries such as mining, to apply their project management, environment or safety skills to our renewable projects.

As Australia transitions from fossil fuel generation to renewable generation, it’s imperative we support and transition these workers across to harness their skills and experience. And we won’t be stopping there – we understand continual innovation will be essential.

At the same time, the requirement for learning workers and apprentices on REZ projects will ensure we develop the next generation of renewable workers. Requirements for First Nations participation and the employment of underrepresented groups will ensure we include the entire community on the renewable journey.

The Central-West Orana REZ will support an expected 3,900 construction jobs at its peak and another 500 ongoing jobs. And that’s just the start – there are more REZs behind it.

We really do have a once in generation opportunity to facilitate regional rejuvenation and economic development, whilst also meeting our 43% carbon emissions target by 2030. I look forward to CWP Renewables playing a key role in delivering the required renewable generation capacity as we move to net zero emissions. I look even more forward to realising the full potential of regional benefits that renewable energy can deliver, creating a lasting legacy for generations to come.

Jason Willoughby

CWP Renewables CEO

Visit our renewable energy news page for the latest updates.


Other Articles