WA businesses could lead the renewable energy charge

Renewable energy is essential in wa 171 6005002 0 14101245 300

Western Australian businesses currently have the opportunities they need to take the lead when it comes to renewable energy, providing the right policies are in place. Over recent years, the state has been at the forefront of the mining boom, but now this appears to be coming to an end, it needs to join the race for renewable energy, claims the Clean Energy Council.

The group said just a "few simple policy measures" would get the state's renewable energy future on track. Opportunities are there for the taking, so it's now the job of authorities to make sure they are maximised while they can.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said: "The Clean Energy Council is calling on the Western Australian Government to cement its place as the resources capital of Australia, and take advantage of its abundant sun, wind, biomass and waves to generate affordable clean energy."

He emphasised that WA "hasn't fully capitalised on the opportunities on offer - yet", but now is the time to make sure positive steps are taken. This will benefit both homeowners and businesses alike.

How is renewable energy faring at the moment?

WA hasn't been completely immune to the renewable energy phenomenon. Back in 2013, state-owned electricity retailer Synergy revealed that as many as 2,500 customers are installing solar panels each month.

In fact, more than one in ten of its customers were benefiting from solar PV when the report was released - that's around 112,000 households. This is up considerably from the 1,000 with solar panel installations in July 2008.

More recently, WA has become home to the first wave energy project in the world, which was officially launched earlier this month. The Perth Wave Energy Project will be able to produce both fresh water and electricity and is located on Garden Island.

The Clean Energy Council heralded the project as an example of how innovation and technology can come together to bring more renewable energy to the people of Western Australia. Mr Thornton explained that wave energy has "huge potential", so hopefully the Perth Wave Energy Project will go some way towards ensuring that it is met.

Attempts are likewise being made to maximise the use of wind energy throughout the state. Several large-scale wind farms are currently in operation, including Collgar Wind Farm based in Merredin. This project alone is estimated to be capable of displacing between 633,300 and 863,500MW tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

Why is renewable energy so important in WA?

Like many other parts of the country, Western Australian businesses are being affected by the double-edged sword of rising energy costs and the need to become more efficient. Being able to source energy from cleaner sources has the potential to drive down electricity prices, while giving companies a reduced carbon footprint.

The 2013 Residential Electricity Price Trends report from the Australian Energy Market Commission found that electricity prices are expected to be flat over the coming years, or will increase at a rate less than inflation. Standing offers, on the other hand, seem poised for a 0.7 per cent rise.

However, the study acknowledges that electricity prices throughout the state have been rising since 2009, which is why action needs to be taken sooner rather than later.

Businesses can take action internally to reduce the impact of rising prices, such as encouraging more environmentally behaviour among staff. However, it's apparent that investment in renewable energy and alternative generation systems could well be where the future lies.

There is also an opportunity to reduce the amount paid through bills by carrying out an electricity comparison, which should highlight some of the more competitive deals available.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott