Premier Roger Cook’s clean energy transition summit is a great initiative. But, it will be a missed opportunity if it is just another collection of suits, agreeing furiously with ourselves about how exciting it all is.
Of course, the huge investment in critical minerals, rare earths, renewables and green hydrogen that is occurring at present is exciting. As is the potential manufacturing of wind turbines and batteries in WA. Then there is the promised land of green steel.
But where the summit could make a real difference, is in explaining and tackling the many challenges we face. For example, many aren’t aware that a massive expansion in mining is needed to meet the mineral needs of the energy transition. Or that we need more gas in the near term, to drive mining growth and retire coal and diesel-fired power.
Then there’s the land access and logistical challenges of building the more than 200 GW of renewables planned across WA by 2040, including getting more than 25,000 massive wind turbines to site.
But the biggest challenge could be the growing skills shortage projected globally, and the increasing reluctance of young people to pursue the mining careers critical to the transition.
Which is why it is so important that the summit reaches beyond St George’s Terrace, ensuring the community is just as excited as industry, at the opportunities ahead.
This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.