Forty-three thousand new jobs for electricians. More than 200,000 new jobs in the clean energy workforce. A unique opportunity for Australia to benefit from the global demand for renewable energy, writes Jason Willoughby.

Written by Squadron Energy |

Those are the benefits of the build-out of renewables identified in the Federal Government’s latest report on the state of Australia’s regional communities.

The construction of wind, solar and battery projects is one of the greatest opportunities to drought-proof regional communities in our volatile climate. It can reverse the brain drain from regional Australia so that kids can get skilled, well-paid jobs where they grew up.

So why are we still seeing pockets of concern, even deep opposition, from some quarters of the rural community?

The answer is trust.

The transition to a more sustainable energy future in Australia is critically dependent on the renewable energy sector's ability to foster trust within communities.

The Federal Government's commitment to improving community engagement around renewable energy infrastructure is a critical step forward.

Response to the Dyer Community Engagement Review

It is clear from the Dyer Review into community engagement that the sector needs to demonstrate stronger leadership in building community trust through transparent communication and genuine engagement. As such, it’s incumbent on all renewable energy developers to benchmark their performance against the recommendations of this Review.

And Squadron Energy welcomes the scrutiny.

As Australia’s leading and 100% Australian owned renewable energy company that develops, operates and owns renewable energy assets in Australia - we know we have a responsibility to lead in this space.

The renewable energy projects we undertake are not just about generating clean energy; they are unlocking huge economic opportunities at a local level and bringing enormous benefits to regional communities.

Trust is critical. That’s why Squadron Energy supports the establishment of an independent developer rating scheme.

As the Review recommends: ‘The scheme should provide transparent, periodic ratings of developer engagement performance and capability.’

Let the industry’s performance be reviewed by independent experts and rightly judged by the community it impacts - the community has a right to access that transparent advice.

At Squadron Energy, we welcome the opportunity to show the community our track record and be a leader in setting industry norms. Not only in terms of the delivery of our projects, but in distributing the benefits of renewable energy amongst the whole community.

Sharing the benefits with our communities

Our projects will leave a lasting legacy in the regional communities in which we operate, recognising the vital role these communities play in Australia's energy transition.

We achieve this through community benefits funds, community investment schemes in our wind farms, community sponsorship grants and voluntary planning agreements.

We’re also piloting the deployment of free and subsidised wireless networks around our projects to provide essential connectivity to farms and regional businesses, making regions safer and better connected.

We have already made significant progress by listening to, and working with, communities to develop approaches to community benefit sharing that expand beyond the immediate landowners and neighbours.

Our focus is on how we can deliver benefits to an entire region, including those not directly impacted by our projects.

Whether it’s supporting crucial services like the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in Northern NSW or backing the young and not-so-young kids playing for the Wellington Cowboys Junior and Senior Rugby League Clubs, we’re committed to sharing the value and benefits of our projects over the long term.

Every wind, solar and battery project delivered is an opportunity to bring benefits to local communities, while bringing down power prices and building towards a cleaner future for us all.

It’s up to all of us in the renewable sector to actively listen to the concerns, ideas and aspirations raised by communities and deliver solutions that benefit everyone.

Jason Willoughby is CEO of Squadron Energy.


Other Articles