Regional NSW can benefit from the energy transition

31 May 2024

Regional communities have the power to harness renewable energy to generate economic growth, according to Essential Energy Chief Executive Officer John Cleland, who spoke at a Future Energy event at Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie on Thursday, May 30.

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 and how existing electricity infrastructure can drive economic benefits for regional communities.

“While the energy transition poses a significant challenge for the industry, it also provides an opportunity for regional, rural and remote communities to prosper,” John said.

“By increasing the amount of renewable energy generated and stored locally in regional communities like Port Macquarie, these regions can attract new industry creating local investment and employment opportunities. This is good for the network, customers and communities and enables them to directly benefit from the energy transition.”

John explained how there is an excess of solar generated power going into the grid during daylight hours that could be stored and released when it’s needed.

“We'll see batteries at all levels across the grid, from the household level right through to mega network batteries, like the Waratah Super Battery. Energy storage systems are a key component to the energy transition as they provide reliability and resilience,” John said.

Essential Energy has started trialling batteries with its first network battery launched at Sovereign Hills, Port Macquarie in February last year and its first pole-mounted battery installed in Clarence Town earlier this month. Port Macquarie is earmarked for its own pole-mounted batteries with a trial being rolled out in partnership with Origin Energy in the coming months.

John also highlighted how harnessing renewable generation connections by using existing infrastructure can bring economic benefits for regional, rural and remote NSW, along with the broader energy system.

“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 awards of these opportunities.”

Along with John’s presentation, Essential Energy, Business NSW and Port Macquarie Hasting Council had information booths set up to provide the community with information about future energy and sustainability projects happening in the region.

The event was co-hosted by Essential Energy, Charles Sturt University, Business NSW and Port Macquarie Hasting Council.

Linda Taylor, Kate Wood-Foye, John Cleland, Jessica Tapp

(L-R): Linda Taylor (Business NSW), Kate Wood-Foye (Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie campus), CEO John Cleland, Jessica Tapp (Port Macquarie-Hastings Council) at the Future Energy event at Charles Sturt University in Port Macquarie on May 30.