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Australia Accelerates Renewable Energy Projects to Drive Green Transition

published: 2023-07-05 16:22

The State of Western Australia has taken significant steps to expedite the approval process for renewable energy and related projects. In order to streamline environmental assessments and reduce project approval timeframes, the state government has established a dedicated team called the Green Energy Approvals Initiative. This initiative aims to drive investment in various sectors, including wind and solar power generators, renewable hydrogen industries, lithium mining, critical minerals processing, and the manufacturing of green energy products like batteries, electrolyzers, solar panels, and wind turbines.

Currently, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is assessing or regulating over 40 green energy projects, with a focus on renewable hydrogen, followed by wind energy, lithium mining, and critical minerals. Furthermore, there are more than 30 proposals expected to be referred to the department for assessment within the next year. The newly formed green energy approvals team will prioritize a significant number of these projects.

Premier Roger Cook emphasized that the whole-of-government Green Energy Approvals Initiative will not only support the growth of green industries in Western Australia but also create local jobs and contribute to a strong economy. The initiative aims to attract new investments while ensuring the protection of the environment for future generations.

To assist projects and investors in navigating government processes, the state government is establishing the Green Energy Major Projects Group under the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science, and Innovation. This group will serve as the primary point of contact for guidance and support.

In addition, a Green Energy Expert Panel consisting of government and industry stakeholders is being formed to provide project-related information to the independent Environmental Protection Authority. The recruitment of panelists from Australia and global markets is nearing completion.

Moreover, Western Australia has recognized the importance of solar panel recycling efforts. Under its Infrastructure Grants Program, the state government has announced 21 winning projects that will receive over AUD 6.5 million in funding to support electrical and electronic waste recycling. With a goal to ban e-waste disposal to landfills by 2024, Western Australia intends to include solar PV systems in future phases. Among the winning projects are two solar PV recycling facilities that will collectively receive AUD 2.4 million in funding. These facilities will significantly increase the recycling capacity for solar panels, contributing to an 80% material diversion from landfills.

Western Australia's commitment to sustainable practices aligns with the efforts of other Australian states. Queensland, for example, is considering a ban on dumping solar panels in landfills within the next decade and aims to establish a solar panel recycling scheme. Additionally, in June 2022, New South Wales allocated AUD 7.4 million to support the establishment of solar module and battery recycling facilities.

The issue of solar panel recycling has been a topic of discussion within the PV industry's sustainability efforts.

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