Ararat power probe

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Aplan to ex­ploit Ararat’s po­ten­tial through western Vic­to­rian re­new­able-en­ergy ex­pan­sion is gain­ing trac­tion with mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers in deep dis­cus­sion with de­vel­op­ers and in­dus­try in­sid­ers.

Ararat Ru­ral City Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Tim Har­ri­son re­vealed yes­ter­day that Ararat’s prospects of tap­ping into new de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties on the back of re­new­able en­ergy had taken ‘ma­jor’ steps for­ward. He said while he was lim­ited in what he could re­veal, he hoped the Ararat coun­cil could make an ‘ex­cit­ing’ an­nounce­ment by early next year.

“We’ve had a broad range of con­ver­sa­tions with peo­ple in the re­new­able sec­tor in terms of al­ter­na­tive en­ergy streams that might pro­vide en­hanced base-load en­ergy in Ararat dis­trict,” he said.

“We’re very early in the ne­go­ti­a­tion process but op­por­tu­ni­ties stem­ming from these dis­cus­sions could also fa­cil­i­tate lo­cal in­dus­trial growth. It’s ex­cit­ing.

“It is also very real. We’re hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about real pos­si­bil­i­ties and it is far from sim­ply spin­ning a line to pro­mote Ararat. It’s se­ri­ous busi­ness.

“There is a very clear op­por­tu­nity to set new di­rec­tions about how com­mu­ni­ties can en­gage with the en­ergy sec­tor.

“So­ci­ety has an ap­petite for re­new­able-en­ergy pro­duc­tion and use, and that’s where our in­ves­ti­ga­tions are lead­ing us.”

Dr Har­ri­son said adapt­ing re­new­able en­ergy for base-load or con­sis­tent sup­ply, was an im­por­tant part of the Ararat process.

“We talk a lot about wind, which Ararat is al­ready tap­ping into, and so­lar power in re­new­able-en­ergy dis­cus­sions, but there are many other op­por­tu­ni­ties to be ex­plored,” he said.

“All I can say at this point is we’re en­gaged in a pro­duc­tive con­ver­sa­tion with in­dus­try lead­ers.”

Dr Har­ri­son de­clared in July this year that the Grampians re­gion was primed to ex­ploit value-adding growth op­por­tu­ni­ties gen­er­ated by re­new­able-en­ergy farms, in­clud­ing Ararat dis­trict.

He said at the time it was log­i­cal to con­sider ways to tap into the en­ergy be­fore it left the re­gion.

Dr Har­ri­son also added that the idea of us­ing a home-grown re­source to stim­u­late a re­gional econ­omy was ob­vi­ous and far from new.

“Just think about all the in­dus­tries that would love the op­por­tu­nity to tap into read­ily avail­able, ef­fi­cient and rel­a­tively cheap power that they could work into a busi­ness case where there were ben­e­fits, not only fi­nan­cially, but also so­cially and en­vi­ron­men­tally. It would tick a lot of boxes,” he said.

Dr Har­ri­son used data ware­houses, the back­bone of the cloud-based dig­i­tal econ­omy and high con­sumers of elec­tric­ity, as an ex­am­ple of an in­dus­try that could be­come es­tab­lished in a re­gional area on the back of a re­new­able-en­ergy farm.

He also spoke of the con­cept unfolding near Great Western through the de­vel­op­ment of Bul­gana Green Power Hub, de­signed to com­bine wind power, bat­tery-power stor­age and hor­ti­cul­ture.

“I re­it­er­ate what I said ear­lier this year – there are many in­dus­tries that are look­ing for ways where they can work with value-adding for­mu­las to make pro­duc­tion vi­able and prof­itable,” he said.

“This is about cre­at­ing the in­cen­tives and op­por­tu­ni­ties that every­one talks about in at­tract­ing peo­ple to re­gional ar­eas.”

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