Capitalise on opportunities
Awareness about what the obvious next step in exploiting regional renewable-energy growth is sinking in and it will be up to tuned-in municipal councils, communities and business leaders to seize the opportunity.
Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Tim Harrison is on the money in identifying opportunities wind and solar-energy farms present in encouraging power-hungry industries to the regions.
He is also right in declaring Ararat district front and centre in what is evolving as a western Victorian renewable-energy heartland, perfectly poised to capitalise on the opportunity.
He is among leaders well aware that when it comes to renewable-energy farms in regional areas, profound benefits from these developments have a chance to flow through a strategic value-adding philosophy.
Money flows into communities during construction of multi-million-dollar energy farms and a trickle often continues through community funding arrangements after construction.
But it is what can happen years beyond construction and industrial value-adding planning that has Dr Harrison more than a little interested.
He’s far from alone. Regional community leaders across the country are following with interest the progress of Bulgana Green Power Hub near Great Western.
If successful, the partnership between renewable-energy developer Neoen and
horticulture producer Nectar Farms will break new international ground.
One of the primary constants in the market is the desire for cheap, efficient and readily available energy.
Big energy users are often big employers. This equates to a workforce and people – and people represent what much of western Victoria desperately needs.
The challenge for regional development leaders exploring this potential will be coming up with attractive business-case formulas and plans.
Plans must directly target the hip-pocket of stakeholders and represent opportunities too hard for well-established as well as emerging industrial businesses to ignore.
Securing a large industrial project, complete with workforce, would represent a massive win for any of our regional or rural communities – just one project could change a town’s fortunes.
This all makes sense in our wide-open landscape while the wind blows and the sun shines and energy-storage technology continues to rapidly advance.