There are many examples of how renewable energy projects are contributing to the economic development of regional Australia. One such project, recently included in our evidence to the Senate Select Committee Hearing on Jobs for the Future in Regional Areas on 1 October, is the Bulgana Green Power Hub.
Like most country towns, the small regional centre of Stawell – 120 km north-west of Ballarat – has to work hard to attract new employers to the area.
But its abilities to do so were bolstered when some clever footwork by the Victorian Government helped to secure the Bulgana Green Power Hub – a wind farm and big battery development – a short drive from the town.
Nectar Farms – a hydroponic vegetable producer – was keen to invest locally in building one of the biggest greenhouses in Australia to supply domestic and international markets. However, the rising cost of electricity and high gas prices from the main grid put the viability of the project in doubt.
In stepped the Victorian Government, which helped to secure the Nectar Farms project for the region by signing a power purchase agreement with the Bulgana Green Power Hub for a portion of the electricity output, thus enabling both the clean energy development and Nectar Farms projects to proceed.
Nectar Farms was now able to source lower-cost renewable energy and proceed with the $220 million investment for its 30 hectare glasshouse operation in Stawell.
Together, the Bulgana Green Power Hub and Nectar Farms projects will generate 1300 jobs during construction, nearly 300 permanent jobs and a further 150 indirect jobs to the wider Stawell community.
That’s a win for all involved, especially regional Australia.
See the Clean Energy Council’s full submission to the Senate Select Committee here.