Renewable energy generation is key to regional economic growth

27 February 2024

Regional communities have the power to harness renewable energy to generate economic growth, according to Essential Energy Chief Executive Officer John Cleland, who led a University of New England SMART Region Incubator roundtable discussion on February 27.

John explained how rooftop solar and localised energy storage are already having a positive impact on decreasing the amount of power that is generated from fossil fuels.

He said existing electricity infrastructure has the power to drive economic benefits for regional communities.

“There is an excess of solar generated power going into the grid during daylight hours that will increasingly be stored in batteries,” John said.

“By increasing the amount of renewables that are generated and stored in regional communities like Armidale, these regions can attract new industry creating local investment and employment opportunities.”

John also spoke about a ‘Distribution Renewable Energy Zone’. The concept involves harnessing the renewable generation connections, utilising existing infrastructure and unlocking network capacity to bring economic benefits for regional, rural and remote NSW, along with the broader energy system.

“Technology is providing us with increased clarity on the network capacity to connect cost-effective large-scale renewable projects,” he said.

“These types of projects also bring jobs and investment to regional communities. This is good for the network, customers and communities and enables them to directly benefit from the energy transition.”

John also took the opportunity to explain the energy transition and what it means for the electricity grid.

“While a more complex electricity generation system requires an innovative way of managing the power grid within its technical operating limits, it also presents opportunities,” he said.

“And we want to ensure that regional communities reap the rewards of these opportunities.”

Five people standing in front of a presentation screen

(L-R) Matt Peterson, Essential Energy CEO John Cleland, Lou Conway, Alex Cook, Essential Energy Executive Officer David Archer at the UNE roundtable on 27 September.

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