Renewable energy training hub one step closer after government grant

FEDERATION University is one step closer to being the home of Australia’s renewable energy training after a state government grant to prepare its business case for the hub.

The $50,000 funding will allow the university to present in full its plans for an $11 million training centre to be housed at the Ballarat West Employment Zone (BWEZ) which it first proposed in October last year.

It is hoped the business case will be completed by August and be able to be presented to the state government for funding consideration.

Federation University executive director of TAFE Barry Wright said it will support the university’s plan for an international training hub.

“We want to become the accredited provider in that space,” Mr Wright said. 

“Due of our geographical location it really suits us because we have strong renewable energy around wind in our region but we’re also looking to go beyond that.

“There’s also solar and battery storage which we are pretty strong in as well, and hydrogen is also on the horizon and I think that could be an exciting stage to be involved in as well.”

The proposed training centre would produce an industry-recognised skilled workforce to construct, install and maintain renewable energy infrastructure.

Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Environment Lily D'Ambrosio. Picture: Kate Healy

Minister for Climate Change, Energy and Environment Lily D'Ambrosio. Picture: Kate Healy

The Grampians region has emerged as Victoria’s engine room of renewable energy generation and associated economic growth with almost $3 billion-worth of wind farm developments under construction.

“There’s an existing workforce that’s growing, but also ageing, so we need to get new people trained up and out to work in this sector,” Mr Wright said.

Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said she was impressed that Federation University was not thinking small.

“The opportunities to understand the new technologies and getting the training that is going to be needed in local communities, will deliver many benefits to the projects being built and maintained,” Ms D’Ambrosio said. 

“The proposed centre has the potential to boost local jobs in the renewable energy sector.”

The training hub business case funding announcement comes as the state government also yesterday committed $500,000 to help transition the Grampians region into a low-carbon economy.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Grampians New Energy Taskforce (GNeT) will use the funding to develop a “roadmap to transition the region to a low-carbon economy” by 2050.

“The Grampians region is already a leader in renewable energy and this funding will help it transition to a low carbon future,” she said.

GNeT is made up of local government representatives, regional partnership members, industry and community groups and will investigate new economic and investment opportunities as part of the roadmap.

GNeT chairman Stuart Benjamin said it was hoped the announcements would create a “jobs boom” for future generations.

“The announcement today from the minister is very exciting,” he said. 

GNeT chairman Stuart Benjamin

GNeT chairman Stuart Benjamin

“Essentially what we’ve realised in the Grampians region is we have an incredible resource of both wind and solar and with the potential to produce hydrogen here, what that will do is create a jobs boom for the future.

“Jobs will be created in the thousands in the medium term. We’ve currently got about $3 billion worth of construction projects about to start including 500 new turbines in the wind sector. We are looking at 2000 jobs just from that initiative.

“We want to go cradle to grave for the entire project, we want to be building, we want to be manufacturing turbines, solar panels and we want to be researching here.”