Australia: on the way to being a renewable energy superpower
Marking the annual event ‘Global Wind Day’, which celebrates wind energy and its development, Clean Energy Council has praised Australia’s progress.
Noting that wind energy is among the cheapest and most feasible renewable energy sources currently available, Kane Thornton, CEO of Clean Energy Council (CEC) stated that the COVID-19 pandemic should represent an acceleration of interest for the country.
Highlighting that significant progress has already been made in the South as the country weans itself off of fossil fuels like coal, Thornton impressed that the energy transition was far from over.
“Wind energy presents an enormous opportunity for Australia as we transition from carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
“There’s undoubtedly more that can be done with the right transmission line infrastructure investment. Now, we see Western Australia taking up the challenge and harnessing its clean energy resources with wind,” he said.
With the net contribution of renewable energy sources accounting for 23.5% (33 TWh) of Australia’s power in 2019, CEC estimates that 8.5% was accounted for by wind - double the amount recorded in 2014 - and 35% of renewable generation.
In addition, 2019 represented a particularly fertile year for wind power, which added a further 837 MW of new capacity. Currently, there are 28 new projects either under development or financially-backed.
Thornton stated that the benefits of renewable energy lie not just in its environmental virtues, but also its ability to improve the welfare of communities with cheaper, more reliable power that can grant a measure of independence.
“The growth in wind farm development comes at a critical time for our regional and rural economies, as they’ve been battered by long-term drought and, over the last year, fire,” he continues.
“Not only are there enormous benefits for our environment as we lower our carbon emissions, but renewable energy can solidify communities, improve energy reliability and help save money on electricity.”
Unlocking Tasmania’s energy potential
CEC also simultaneously announced that Marinus Link, an interconnector between the island of Tasmania and the Australian mainland, has been granted approval.
Part of a set of 15 projects (collective value: AU$72bn), Marinus Link will enable Tasmania to harness its vast wind and hydroelectric potential by providing a method of export to the mainland.
Augmenting the already accelerated renewable energy development of Southern Australia, the project could play a significant part in driving energy prices down for consumers and be a harbinger for a net-zero carbon economy by 2035.
A.study conducted prior to planning Marinus Link found that $2.9bn of value could be unlocked under current conditions, but with the potential to unlock an additional $5.7bn through further renewable energy investments.
“There are hundreds of large-scale wind and solar projects that have been identified with planning approval and are well placed to proceed quickly,” concluded Thornton.
“By accelerating approvals, $50bn of investment could be added to our economy, while more than 30,000 MW of capacity and more than 50,000 new jobs in constructing these projects, along with many more indirect jobs, would cement Australia’s position as a clean energy superpower.”
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.