Ararat power probe
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.”