At the National Native Title Conference in Townsville, Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) brought together key participants in the renewable energy sector to discuss a range of real and exciting opportunities that exist for Indigenous Australians to participate in and benefit from this sector.
With the session derived to align with IBA’s board-approved renewable energy strategy, the panel was comprised of representatives from IBA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), the First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance and the Taungurung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.
The presentations provided an overview of the renewable energy market, opportunities for Indigenous communities and businesses and learnings from existing projects developed in partnership with Indigenous groups in remote and regional Australia.
The clear message was that renewable energy presents a wide variety of opportunities to Indigenous communities, organisations and businesses.
For remote communities, replacing expensive diesel generators with solar and battery systems presents multiple benefits.
IBA, in partnership with Indigenous business All Grid Energy, has financed solar and storage projects at seven remote communities across the Tennant Creek region in the Northern Territory and Doomadgee in Queensland.
The benefits from these projects flow from a reduction in living costs and improved energy security, an ability to return to country and installation of the internet (not previously available) which in turn opens up a range of positive health, education and social outcomes.
For communities and groups with land assets connected to regional or national electricity networks, opportunities potentially exist to invest in large-scale renewable energy projects and to derive an income from selling this electricity to government or corporate customers.
In addition, there is significant scope for Indigenous businesses to take part in this energy transition in a variety of ways. This is demonstrated by the growing number of Indigenous domestic and commercial solar businesses that are emerging across the country.
IBA chair Eddie Fry said the opportunities available to Indigenous Australians from the renewable energy transition are diverse.
‘They include the enhancement of cultural and economic benefits on country, reducing energy costs for households and organisations and the potential to build innovative and sustainable businesses: the time is now to explore and maximise these opportunities’, Mr Fry concluded.