Is Australia failing in the design of renewables?

Jan 25, 2023

Is Australia failing in the design of renewables?

Traditional engineering mindsets need to change to consider the full lifecycle of materials throughout a project.

With the explosion of renewable energy projects worldwide, these must be designed for circularity to ensure we aren’t creating a problem in the future.

Australia is lucky that the major international renewable manufacturers are well ahead of the curve, which will help accelerate our circularity journey. However, based on renewable projects submitted for approval over the previous 18 months, these are not being designed for the future.

Today’s problems are often yesterday’s solution!

The time is now for renewable projects in Australia to integrate circularity as part of early engineering design.

The majority of renewable energy projects in Australia are being submitted based on a 25 – 30 year project duration, many are being submitted with rehabilitation plans where they impact Matters of National Environmental Significance under the EPBC Act.

This is not designing for the future or sustainability, this is the typical short-term thinking and design process applied to finite resource projects, which we need to break.

We need renewables for longer than 30 years – so design it with that in mind

From reviewing close to 50 renewable energy project environmental approvals in Australia, only one mentioned that, based on the project location, design and life extension strategies, the project could operate indefinitely. This should be the basis for all renewable projects. By doing this, projects can also create long-term biodiversity and regeneration plans for the local area.

If you submit a rehabilitation plan with your renewable energy project environmental approvals, you are simply doing it wrong.

Regulators need to play their role

Regulators such as NOPSEMA and the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water must learn from overseas and create clear expectations and regulations for sustainability and circularity in the design of renewable projects if we are to meet our renewable energy, climate change and biodiversity goals.

If you would like to know more

Contact us at Evolveable Consulting, and we assist businesses in identifying decarbonisation solutions and strategies to reshape their business. You can learn more about our services or book a consultation directly with us.

 

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