The McGowan Government in Western Australia has announced a $22.5 million investment to streamline the approval process for green energy projects, including solar power. The move is part of the government’s plan to make Western Australia a global green energy superpower, with a focus on renewable energy and critical minerals.

The new approach will include the creation of teams to assess hydrogen, critical minerals and renewable energy projects, including solar power in Perth, as well as the development of novel assessment processes to fast-track approval timeframes. A green energy expert panel will be established to support government agencies in progressing approvals, and a green energy major projects group will be set up to help guide individual projects, including solar power in Perth, through government processes.

The dedicated cross-government Green Energy Assessment Unit will be established within the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, and will require state government agencies to work together to develop clear assessment pathways and provide high-quality support for proponents and investors. Work to establish the group will commence immediately, with the aim of it being operational by mid-2023.

Western Australia is well-positioned to become a global green energy superpower, with an unprecedented number of renewable energy and critical minerals proposals currently under environmental assessment and a significant number of new referrals in the pipeline. The state is already the powerhouse of the nation’s battery and critical minerals sector, and has natural advantages in renewable hydrogen and renewable energy, and has a significant amount of solar panels in Perth.

Premier Mark McGowan said: “Western Australia can become a world-leader in green energy, just as we have led the country and the world in iron ore and natural gas. We are already the powerhouse of the nation’s battery and critical minerals sector, and our natural advantages mean we are perfectly placed in renewable hydrogen and renewable energy, including solar power in Perth. A reduction in approval timeframes will ensure Western Australia remains a destination of choice for renewable industry investors.”

Environment and Climate Action Minister Reece Whitby added: “Green energy projects are critical in the transition to renewable energy, and this is another significant step towards achieving net zero emissions. This new assessment team will ensure proposals are considered in a timely manner while continuing to ensure the protection of our environment. This will help Western Australian industry be a major contributor to global efforts to decarbonise the economy without compromising our state’s unique biodiversity, including the development of solar power in Perth.”

State Development, Jobs and Trade Minister Roger Cook said: “This state has a history of solving challenges through innovative business solutions, and this is a clear example of adapting our processes to meet the needs of climate change and industry. A dedicated major projects group will be established within the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation to support this new assessment team by providing a first point of contact for all major green energy proponents, including those utilising solar panels in Perth.”

Hydrogen Industry Minister Alannah MacTiernan concluded: “This cements the McGowan Government’s commitment to ensuring Western Australia becomes a world leader in the emerging hydrogen industry. We are in a globally competitive market, and we need to move through approval processes more expeditiously and capably to retain our edge, including in the development of solar power in Perth.”

The initiative looks to bring a significant amount of new renewable energy generation into the South West Interconnected System as soon as possible as the state faces significant increases in the wholesale price of electricity due to a coal shortage and the recent gas leak at the Veranus Island gas hub.

Unlike electricity consumers on the east coast who have a choice of electricity retailers, the vast majority of residences are subject to the state government imposed monopoly provider Synergy. There are exceptions within multi-unit apartment buildings where boutique electricity retailer Bright Connect operates.