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Statments by Senators – Carnegie Clean Energy – 21 June 2017

Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (13:35): It will probably come as no surprise to anyone in this chamber that I am a very proud Western Australian, and I take every opportunity in this place to promote the many successful and innovative industries we have in Western Australia, particularly those that develop and commercialise world-leading technologies. I rise to speak today on another great example of the spirit of Western Australian enterprise and ingenuity—Carnegie Clean Energy, a Western Australian company whose name, I am sure, will be shortly as globally recognisable as Tesla has become today. Carnegie is a leading example of the type of capability, innovation and enterprise in both clean energy generation and storage that we have resident in our great state.

Firstly, though, I would like to congratulate the federal government and in particular the Minister for the Environment and Energy, Mr Frydenberg, on the steps they are taking to secure Australia’s energy future and lower the risk of our own national grid being held hostage to left-wing ideology. I think that it has never been more important for our nation to have secure, affordable and reliable base load power. While clean energy is undoubtedly the way forward for our nation and also for our planet we have to ensure in this place that the transition is done according to science and not according to what I would refer to as nihilistic-like, left-wing ideology.

Most of you probably are not aware that last week Carnegie Clean Energy, a company based in Belmont just east of Perth city, was selected by the US state department to lead global business in achieving United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 7, which is affordable and clean energy. This is just the latest in a long line of clean energy achievements delivered and realised by Carnegie, and I take this opportunity to mark the significance of their achievement and just recognition by the United States.

While many others in this place and out in the broader community are theorising about the merits, possibilities and potential of clean energy, Carnegie has been out there for the last few years quietly but persistently making it happen. Carnegie has gone from strength to strength, and they are now offering a very realistic prospect of affordable and deliverable clean energy at a time when securing our energy future is one of the most important and significant challenges facing our nation and consequently all of us here in this place. But for a Western Australian company to be selected by the US state department to provide international leadership on affordable and clean energy is an amazing honour, and it demonstrates yet again the capability that we have not just in Western Australia but across our great nation.

The Unreasonable Goals program, the structure under which Carnegie will be providing this global leadership, is an exciting new way to tackle global challenges. This group is made up of some of the world’s most constructive and successful entrepreneurs, and it aims to propose solutions to the United Nations’ 17 new Sustainable Development Goals at gatherings to be held globally between this year and 2030. On SDG7, Carnegie will be leading 15 global businesses throughout this program, and they include notable companies such as Tesla, General Electric, Google X, and USAID.

Again, it is an amazing honour for Carnegie to be actually leading these companies in this global effort, and I pay tribute to Carnegie for their leadership. I have watched their development with great interest and, quite frankly, a great deal of pride as a Western Australian since I first visited their wave power project on Garden Island in 2015. From a wave energy generated proof of concept at HMAS Stirling to delivering the biggest battery ever designed and built right here in Australia to supply the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory north of Perth, they have made very significant strides in this sector across multiple different technologies in a very short space of time. Arguably they are now making the most significant contribution to the development of new clean energy technologies in our nation and also globally.

When I first visited Carnegie on Garden Island, they were testing what they call the CETO 5 project. It consists of three large buoys under the ocean surface, which, with the motion of the waves, uses hydraulic power pressure to circulate fluid through the system to turn generators on land, and also to provide desalinated water with negligible use of electricity. That project was the first demonstration anywhere in the world of a grid-connected wave energy system, and it was the only wave project to consist of three units operating together in an array under water that produced both power and desalinated water.

Through this proof of concept, Carnegie sold both the power and the water to the Department of Defence on Australia’s largest naval base, HMAS Stirling. This system stands to provide significant capability to not only our own Navy but also navies globally, especially in terms of providing a self-sufficient, island based backup to mains power. These units were in operation for a total of 13,000 cumulative hours and, because they are situated under water, unlike previous trials, they can reliably withstand very rough sea conditions, where many other projects in the past had failed.

This first Perth project was supported by a $13.1 million grant from ARENA and $10 million in grant funding from the Western Australian government’s low emissions energy development program. The CETO desalination plant was also part funded by a $1.27 million AusIndustry grant from the Clean Technology Innovation Program. This project provided the basis for engagement with many island nations, many of which still rely on importing diesel, and many of which have significant stretches of coastline with ample wave power to exploit.

Carnegie are also doing many other projects. There are a couple I would like to share with you today. Carnegie are currently developing a 10-megawatt solar power station for Northam. This station will spread over about 25 hectares and will deliver 24,000 megawatts per hour per annum through the use of 34,000 solar panels. Carnegie also has projects in development right across the globe in the United Kingdom, Canada, Burma, Ireland, Mauritius, Chile and many others. Because of all of this, I have no doubt that the name Carnegie Clean Energy will soon be a global household name as an international powerhouse.

Those opposite, I believe, are jeopardising Australia’s future economic growth and denying the secure, reliable and affordable energy plan that all Australian businesses, families and society need and depend on. Unlike those opposite, this government is committed to ensuring the security and affordability of a reliable energy system. Our nation needs certainty for investment in new generation and lower power prices for businesses and families. It is pleasing to hear and see that COAG energy ministers, including those from Labor states and territories, have all agreed that the primary responsibility of all governments in Australia is to ensure that there is an energy system in place that we can trust that is affordable and reliable. I believe that the proposals put forward in the new report are sensible and that they need to be debated further in this place and in the broader community, because Australia needs a system that is secure, reliable and affordable to deliver the necessary energy security for our nation.

Once again, I congratulate Carnegie for their leadership in developing clean energy solutions that offer the very real prospect of reliable, affordable and deliverable energy outcomes for this country. Just as importantly, a lot of their solutions are becoming more and more economically sustainable and viable for our nation. And, if all of these were not reasons enough for celebrating Carnegie Clean Energy, I have to say: what more is there than the fact that they are Western Australian?

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