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Do I need to move overseas to work in renewables industry?

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A personal submission to the Abbott government’s RET Review

Dear Mr Warburton, Dr Fisher, Ms In’t Veld and Mr Zema,

My name is Daniel MacDonald. I work as a wind farm developer for CWP Renewables in Newcastle, NSW. Thank you for reading my submission.

I love my job. I wake every morning with the knowledge that the hard work I put in every day is doing some good. I chose to work in renewables. I became impassioned the day I climbed a wind turbine in the Alps of Austria. I marveled at the sheer scale and streamlined design of the blades, also how clean the inside of the machine was and how it was able to generate so much energy by just the swoosh of the blades in the stiff breeze. Ever since that day I have worked in wind farm development. I am now but one of an army of people in Australia that calls renewable energy a passion.

A strong renewable energy target is important to me not only for the future of my own job, but so I can be proud to know that the country I call home is doing it’s best to support a better future. It is important because I want to share my passion for clean energy with the extra 18,000 other potential employees by 2020.

1WindPower2014-1My dream is to touch the white towers of wind turbines that I helped become real. I look forward to negotiating multi­million dollar deals attracting much needed investment in regional communities. I want to deliver on promises I have made with farmers in rural NSW to do my best to secure them additional farm income. For me, a strong Renewable Energy Target provides the confidence to do great things for my country, with my government effectively saying “we share a vision for a sustainable future”.

My passion for renewable energy extends to community energy projects. I helped to establish the Clean Energy Association of Newcastle and Surrounds (CLEANaS) in 2012. CLEANaS aims to develop renewable energy projects to be funded by the people of Newcastle and surrounds. Participating in Renewable Energy will be a win win for the community and those hosting/buying the energy, providing another way for others to make meaningful and tangible contributions to reducing the impacts of climate change. I love the energy in community energy, I have already made some great friends and had great experiences through our shared passion.

I fear that without a strong Renewable Energy Target investment in the industry will cease and motivation to join together in community renewables will dry up. This will mean that all my colleagues, friends and I have strived for will be mothballed for another government to resurrect one day soon when we start to realise that we need to catch up with the rest of the world.

In the meantime, I will look to continue my passion by moving overseas where investment in wind farms and solar is seeing no end, where more future looking governments (on both sides of politics) value the opportunities of transitioning their energy industries to more secure and sustainable forms. Leaving Australia would be hard. I love my life here, my family, my home and my community. Although I would not be alone as I know many in my industry are likely to do the same.

My hope instead is that you, as an expert, consider not just the bottom line, the numbers and facts that can be twisted and turned inside out to make a case for political purpose, but you consider the opportunity to pave a strong and secure future with solar and wind and new renewable innovations creating energy for me and all Australians for generations to come.

My best for your review and thank you for your consideration, Sincerely,

Daniel MacDonald

  

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  • Mark

    Perfectly written Daniel. We need great people like you here in Australia, provided there is the political will to keep the industry alive.

    • Andrew Thaler

      Dan isn’t alone. Despite the Government rhetoric over renewables I purchased two solar farms off the NSW Government because I believe in the future of renewables. I have 3 kids under 5 yrs old and I need to make their future as free of risk as I can- or at a minimum less bleak.
      I am not the sort of bloke to sit around and hope for the government to act.. I am of the opinion that we the people act and drag the government along behind us. Feel free to hook up and join the conversation with Tweets from
      @SingletonSolar
      @SuperdomeSolar

      The Power is ‘ours’.

  • Nellie MacDonald

    So well written Dan. I feel very strongly on this topic like you but don’t have the articulation to write something as powerful as you have.
    Australia’s current government is shockingly backward thinking. It is embarrassing that with all our resources we do so little and from travelling to so many countries seeing how much renewable energy is produce out of so much less than us.
    I’m concerned about our future as well, especially when I have such a talented brother that would have to move overseas to pursue his passion. We would be detracting so many good people from coming to our country and losing our passionate, educated Australians who’s hearts are in the right place.

  • Peter D

    Well said Dan! It is good to know that there are others who feel the same. We should be expanding this industry, I would like to have a opportunity to work in it too!

  • Ash

    Great article Dan. Unfortunately you’re not
    alone. I too have a passion for renewables and have been lucky enough to work
    in the renewables sector in Australia,
    in my case in solar. However, also as in your case, I am looking at having to
    move overseas to a country with a more responsible vision for the future in
    order to be able to contribute and continue working in the industry I am
    passionate about. Despite this, we are the lucky ones, as we have had the
    opportunity to work in renewables in Australia to gain the gain the
    experience required to get a job overseas. How many other people, equally
    passionate as us, would like to enter the sector but are struggling to find the
    opportunity to do so? Let’s hope it isn’t long before we are able
    to return to contribute to our own country’s industry.

  • barso

    I’m an Australian who lives in South Africa, so that I can work in the photovoltaics industry. While SA has about the same amount of sun, and large amounts of coal reserves like Australia there’s a lot more large scale projects happening here (many 75MW plants) than back in Australia.

    I hope to move back to Australia someday soon and use my experience to assist in the development of large scale renewables, but it’s going to take a change of government (or a massive change of the government’s ideology) for me to end my self-imposed exile.

    • James

      Barso,

      Would be interested to know who some of the big company’s are that focus on PV in SA? Or perhaps any resources i can consult to find out about the industry? I am unfortunately in the same boat as others on here in that the lack of PV oppourtunities means I am looking abroad. I have started looking already but haven’t considered SA as an option…

      • barso

        Most of the large solar EPCs, developers, some module manufacturers and consultants to the industry have some local presence here. Off the top of my head, companies that are involved over here: SunPower, Jinko, Sun Edison, OST Energy, FRV, EDP, Sgurr, 3E, Abengoa. I’m sure there are more.

  • George Papadopoulos

    And there are many rural residents in Australia who have moved or are considering moving homes because of wind turbines and the endless low frequency noise nuisance they create. Any sympathy for them?

    • Colin Nicholson

      I hear that a lot ….It’s just that nobody can ever seem to find me any of these properties

      • George Papadopoulos

        Yes, that’s why the media is full of such stories,complaints etc, developer buying out residents etc, and why studies show that wind farms reduce property prices.

  • linda gill

    Daniel. Suggest you move as far away as possible from Australia. We do not want windturbines in our backyard.

    • Daniel Wright MacDonald

      Thanks Linda, do you have an alternate vision for the future?

  • your local firefighter

    It is very sad for Australia’s National Interest that you have had to appeal for the survival of your industry Daniel.

    On the bright side I admit that I didn’t vote for this to happen to our Country!

    So much lost opportunity, so much more damage to our Biodiversity; the primary problem is that we don’t know which side our bread is buttered on in Australia, the once lucky country will not be so for much longer as the Environment pays for our folly.