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Western Australia: Renewable Energy Potential at CEC WACEF 2023

Western Australia’s renewable energy progress is impressive, with its renewable energy generation doubled over the last five years at 31.5 per cent. 

There is so much potential in WA, and on 7 February, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) WA Clean Energy Forum (WACEF) will explore the state’s energy market transformation. The event will be powered by Goldwind and will take place at Perth’s Pan Pacific Hotel. 

Mining decarbonisation in WA

One of the topics that will be explored at the CEC WACEF is mining decarbonisation. It can be recalled that in June 2022, the state announced that it would begin decarbonising the state and, following the announcement, the mining industry began its preparations.

WA CEC WACEF 2023

At Curtin WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering has begun drafting the decarbonisation roadmap that is “intended to be aligned with modes of the circular economy.”

According to Professor Michael Hitch, “In the circular models, we produce, we use, but we never really dispose. Or we do it in such a way that the manufactured goods can be disaggregated and returned to the production stream,” he said. 

To make this happen, reducing the impact of mining operations on land, converting mining waste into by-products, and conducting land rehabilitation after mining operations are being planned. 

Mining produces a lot of broken rocks that go to dumps or tailings ponds. To aid with this, WA wants to up-value the rocks that can produce useful by-products. 

Hitch will develop a research program that will allow for collaborations in WA’s mining industry. An example is a project that develops ways to speed up the natural process of mineral carbonation—a natural rock weathering process where carbon dioxide binds to minerals in the Earth’s crust; hence, this slowly removes CO2 from the atmosphere. 

Should the project be successful, it will be an excellent solution for the large-scale storage of carbon dioxide emissions. 

The evolution of rooftop solar 

A significant amount of renewable energy in WA comes from rooftop solar panels, another topic that will be discussed at the forum. 

Solar panel rebates help install solar energy across Australia.
Solar panel rebates help install solar energy across Australia.

Early in 2022, the WA government announced that over 400,000 homes and businesses in the state have rooftop solar connected to the state’s main grid

The growing demand for solar energy calls for more support; hence, the State Government introduced policies, products, and initiatives. 

Some of them include the Emergency Solar management rules, the state’s biggest battery in Kwinana, community battery storage trials, and Virtual Power Plants (VPP)

CEC chief executive officer Kane Thornton said, “Late in 2022, the Western Australia Energy Market was operating on 81 per cent renewable energy. The majority of that was coming from rooftop solar, and that’s without a big battery or a hydropower facility. While the renewable energy landscape is evolving, the state is a fascinating example of making the best use of the clean, low-cost resources available.” 

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Offshore wind and green hydrogen opportunities

Another topic that will be touched upon will be the opportunity for offshore wind and green hydrogen opportunities. WA is set to drive clean hydrogen transformation based on the WA Renewable Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap, which includes 26 initiatives backed by approximately $90 million in developments. 

electricity-wind-turbine-renewable-energy

Horizon Power, owned by the state, revealed a project in 2022 that aims to convert solar plant electricity into green hydrogen, which will be utilised for fuel cells to power homes in Denham

There is an increasing number of offshore wind projects in WA. In September 2022, Copenhagen Energy revealed its plans for 3GW wind projects in WA. 

In November 2022, the Albanese government announced more offshore wind zone areas will be considered in WA, which will help the country reach 82 per cent renewable energy by 2030. 

A spokeswoman for Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen said, “Further areas will be considered over time, including in WA. The process for onshore wind area declarations considers the suitability for energy projects to coexist with other users and interests.”

Energy Matters has over 17 years of experience in the solar industry and has helped over 40,000 Australian households in their journey to energy independence.

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