Media Statement: Shifting SWIS to 90% renewable energy possible by 2030, would create 8,600 jobs – research finds

New economic modelling has found that transitioning Western Australia’s main energy system to 90% renewable energy over the next decade will create more than 55,000 ‘job years’* and more than 8,600 full time equivalent jobs by 2030.

The study was commissioned by Clean State as part of the group’s WA recovery jobs stimulus package – creating 200,000 jobs with 26 projects, and carried out by think tank Sustainable Energy Now (SEN).
 
Using the latest research by the Clean Energy Council and the Australian Industry Group, the modelling shows that rolling out 90% renewable energy across the South West Interconnected System (SWIS) by 2030 is technically and economically feasible, and a huge job creator. 
 
Polling found that 85% of Western Australians support investment in renewable energy as an economic stimulus measure.
 
The SWIS reaches from Albany in the south, Kalbarri in the north and Kalgoorlie in the east, and includes the Perth metropolitan area.

By transitioning to renewables Western Australia would create thousands of new jobs during an economic slump and make significant headway in achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In addition, breaking the link between energy and emissions will put Western Australia’s energy-intensive businesses at the forefront of the new low-carbon economy, giving them a competitive advantage.
 
Climate Analytics modelled a Paris Agreement compatible and cost-optimal emissions pathway for WA’s electricity generation to be one-third renewable by 2025, 90% renewable by 2030 and 100% in the early 2030s. This would reduce emissions from the electricity sector by 95% by 2030.

The report determines that moving the SWIS to 90% renewables by 2030 creates the following: 

  • 55,100 job-years* (between 2020-2030) with an average of 5,000 jobs per year
  • 8,600 full time equivalent jobs in 2030, with 2,700 in ongoing operations and maintenance
  • Opportunities for regional employment with 50-60% of the jobs located in regional areas

A SWIS that’s 90% renewable energy will require more wind and solar energy infrastructure built, with more batteries and pumped hydro providing grid stability.  The remaining 10% in the energy mix will come from open cycle gas turbines.

Ian Porter, Chairman of Sustainable Energy Now, said: “Construction work for new infrastructure projects has become an industry in itself.”
 
“This report shows that transitioning to high levels of renewable energy creates a sustainable construction industry,” he said.
 
The jobs created are in engineering, design, planning, manufacturing, warehousing, transport, construction, installation, operations, maintenance and decommissioning.
 
The report’s jobs numbers are conservative, and include direct employment only.
 
David Martin, CEO of BSC Solar, said political leadership was needed to fully realise Western Australia’s vast clean energy potential.

“The SWIS has access to abundant renewable energy resources and we have access to technologies that will allow us to integrate more and more renewables into the generation mix over time but this future won’t just seamlessly emerge without a commitment from government to reduce our reliance on carbon-intensive technologies, and take positive steps to encourage investment in integrated renewable generation technologies,” he said.

“We need to facilitate the emergence of a system where private investment in distributed renewable generation and storage technologies is encouraged, where our existing network infrastructure is better utilised and local expertise in operating discreet energy systems with high-penetration of renewable generation is adopted, improved and exported to the world.”

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