A state government and industry-led initiative to develop a renewable energy industry cluster in the south east NSW-ACT region has gained the backing of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with the announcement on Tuesday that ARENA would provide $305,000 towards the project.
The $743,000 initiative of the South East Region of Renewable Energy Excellence (SERREE) – a partnership formed and funded by the NSW and ACT governments, Regional Development Australia agencies and 20 large industry groups working in the region – was first conceived in mid-2011 when a small group identified the potential to develop the region’s economy through renewables.
The resulting project – which marries the region’s abundance of renewable energy with the ACT’s favourable renewable energy policies and research capacity – now includes some 450 stakeholders.
ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project aimed to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing on regional renewable energy infrastructure projects, while improving education, training and research in the sector – and creating jobs.
“There is a wealth of renewable energy projects throughout south east NSW and the ACT, making it an ideal place to trial a regional approach to knowledge sharing and skills building,” Frischknecht said at the project’s launch in Canberra.
“The expanding network will establish a best practice framework to encourage other regions to adopt a similar approach to excellence in renewables.”
Regional Development Australia ACT (RDA ACT) has led the SERREE initiative over the past three years, with the support of its funding partners.
Frischknecht said the program had been very successful in engaging a broad range of stakeholders across business, industry, government and education.
“More than 450 network members have participated in the collaboration to date, ranging from government and research institutions through to international project development organisations,” he said.
“The ongoing development of SERREE very much complements ARENA’s role in driving knowledge sharing to accelerate the proliferation of renewable energy in Australia.
“It strongly supports ARENA’s priority of renewable energy industry development through skill and capacity building by fostering local industry links and opportunities.”
The project will continue across the next three years. In addition to ARENA support, it is receiving $60,000 ACT Government funding and $120,000 NSW Government funding.
ACT minister for the environment, Simon Corbell, credited his government’s 90% by 2020 renewable energy target for providing a platform for the initiative, offering industry certainty in the absence of any such support or guidance from the federal government.
“It is very exciting to see ACT region businesses and research groups positioning themselves for the global renewable energy economy, which has an estimated value of $1.7 trillion over the coming decade,” Corbell said.
“I welcome ARENA’s funding announcement for the establishment of a local renewable energy industry cluster, which will provide new business opportunities, investment, education and employment for Canberra and the region.”
The announcement is part of the three-year funding agreement signed by ARENA and Regional Development Australia (RDA) ACT on August 06.
The initiative’s partner industry organisations and financial supporters include Acciona, ActewAGL, Gamesa Australia, Goldwind Australia, Infigen Energy, Pacific Hydro, RATCH-Australia, Union Fenosa Wind Australia, Vestas Australian Wind Technology and Windlab Systems.