Roger Cook's address to the WA Energy Transition Summit

Roger Cook's address to the WA Energy Transition Summit

Can I just begin my address today by acknowledging that we are on Whadjuk land of the Noongar people, we thank them for the opportunity to share this incredible country with them and acknowledge their elders, past and present.

And can I thank Len for your great Welcome to country this morning, Len we thank you for you welcoming us today.

Can I also acknowledge the team at CEDA who have done a great job coordinating this summit.

My great mate, the Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, and my local Member of Parliament, Federal Minister for Resources Madeline King.

Can I also acknowledge my WA government ministerial team and Members of Parliament who are here today, all distinguished guests, particularly those who have travelled from afar to join us here today where we value your attendance so much, we put on a show for you tomorrow night with Coldplay.

Friends, welcome to the Energy Transition Summit, the Western Australian Government's first summit dedicated to one of the greatest challenges and opportunities of the next century.

The challenge? Decarbonising our state to confront climate change. The opportunity? Creating new industries and leveraging our natural advantages to become a global force in renewable energy.

When I became premier several months ago, one of my first requests was to convene this summit because the job of tackling these challenges and opportunities is not a solitary mission.

Everyone in WA relies on electricity and everyone has a role to play in this critical energy transition.

It's therefore vital that we are on the same page as we enter into the era of transition and transformation.

The challenge has existed for far too long and the opportunities are so tremendously immense, they simply can't be passed up.

The best way forward is to bring everyone with us on this journey to follow an agreed pathway, informed by our best minds, which brings us to today.

We’re at the point in time where there has never been more urgency to act, and critically, there has never been more agreement to act now.

I'm not going to lie, getting to this point has not been easy.

For years, decades even, a distracting debate has engulfed conversations around climate change and renewable energy in Australia.

Policies have been repealed as quickly as they were introduced.

Government after government, election after election, an interminable cycle of half measures.

A game of political tennis where there are no winners.

There's been scare campaigns, political stunts, corporate pressure or outright denial of the very issues that we are trying to address, all of which have had a corrosive effect on the public discourse.

But in recent years, there's been a shift.

Suddenly, dissent aimed at the idea of climate change began to jar against a backdrop of increasingly frequent natural disasters.

Increasingly, the nation has witnessed what has been achieved with renewable energy elsewhere, and gradually, the switch to renewable energy revealed itself as basic common sense, not only from an environmental perspective, but also an economic one.

At last there is a will from corporations, from governments, and critically, from the public.

We're now at a point where the energy transition has never made more sense.

Yes, there remains a vocal minority opposed to renewable energy, but progress never happens when the loud voices of a few dominate the quietly held views of the wider population.

We can't let that happen.

We owe it to our children and their children to act and to act now.

The chart you see on the screen above illustrates the challenge ahead to maintain WA's strong economic growth and at the same time reduce our carbon emissions.

Our state is the engine room of the national economy.

We punch well above our weight.

We are Australia's leading exporter by a long margin, accounting for around half of the country's goods exports and overall, we account for 17.5 per cent of the national economy, despite representing only around 10 per cent of the population

You'll also see, although we've sustained high economic growth over the last 20 years, we have managed to stabilise our carbon emissions.

However, there are bigger challenges in the years ahead beyond this chart.

A much bigger economy, greater local demand for energy, and our growing responsibility to produce the materials required for the rest of the world to decarbonise.

Here in the West, we are extremely fortunate.

WA is in a truly unique position leading into the energy transition.

If we could, just for a moment, take stock of our states’ key attributes, abundant land, sunshine and wind, one of the highest uptakes of rooftop solar in the nation.

Beneath our earth, all the ingredients required to make a lithium ion or vanadium flow battery, a mining and resources industry with world recognised expertise and a skilled workforce.

A proven history of success in delivering projects of epic proportions.

And an impeccable record as a reliable and responsible trading partner, a world leading exporter of iron ore, LNG and critical minerals.

When you consider all of these factors, it's plain to see WA is fundamental to the green energy transition and global fight against climate change.

Yes, we have a responsibility to decarbonise our state, but our resources are so great that arguably we have an even bigger responsibility to help our neighbours to decarbonise as well.

Consider Australia's contribution to air pollution. This nation produces around 1.3 per cent of the world's carbon emissions.

Of that, WA contributes less than one fifth or around 16.5 per cent.

Then consider our capacity to supply the world with the raw materials essential for the shift to net zero.

The fact that WA supplies nearly half of the world's lithium and continues exploration to discover more at rates never seen before.

The fact that WA is a top-five global producer of rare earths, nickel and cobalt.

The fact that we have a burgeoning green hydrogen and ammonia industry, or the fact that we continue to work our way up the supply chain, not only digging things up but refining and manufacturing renewable energy products.

These materials will underpin global decarbonisation, and it highlights the central role of our resources sector in decarbonising major economies.

Put simply, the benefits of WA helping other high-emission countries to decarbonise far outstrips the benefits of decarbonising our own economy.

As part of that equation is Western Australia's supply of transitional fuels because the global transition isn't always as simple as quitting fossil fuels and replacing it with renewables.

That would devastate economies, plunge major cities into darkness, and see coal-fired power plants turned back on.

But we can switch to cleaner alternatives as they prepare for renewables.

We can support our international partners transition through our world class natural gas resource delivered to world's best practice environmental standards, including the utilisation of carbon capture and storage.

If not for WA's natural gas, countries such as Japan and South Korea would have no choice but to use more coal.

Due to our reliable supply of LNG, our export partners in Asia have been able to move away from coal-fired power and onto gas.

And as you can see from the chart, demand for our LNG exports remains very strong.

But I want to be clear, this isn't about gas displacing renewable energy sources.

Our trading partners have made commitments and continued to retire coal-fired power plants.

In my recent engagements with Japan and Korea, they have indicated their solid commitment towards switching to renewable energy.

Their sense of urgency is as great as ours.

They're actively looking for investment in WA to fast track their clean fuel ambitions.

There will be a time when our trading partners no longer need our gas, but our role is to be there and to work with them at all checkpoints along the road to net zero.

Looking ahead, there's keen interest from these customers on the development of our hydrogen and ammonia industry.

An industry we've supported from the very start, the fact that we now have more than 30 projects at various stages of development is testament to our support.

Together, current and prospective projects in WA could produce up to 100 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen production in the next 10 years and that could increase to 200 gigawatts by 2040.

Now let's put that into perspective. Current generation capacity in the Southwest Interconnected System, which serves around 1.1 million customers, is around 4.5 gigawatts.

As this chart shows, we have forecast massive growth in renewables to cater for this increase in energy.

However, even then into the 2040s, there remains a base load role for gas power generation, similar to current levels.

When you consider the potential of wind, solar and battery storage systems, you end up with some staggering figures.

Plus the ability of our minerals to be refined and used in batteries that store the energy generated by our renewables.

There is enormous potential in Western Australia, but realising that potential is not possible without increasing the capacity of our network, because the generation of all this energy combined with the growth in consumer demand will require a bigger system.

This fact is also recognised by the federal government, which is supporting states with low interest loans through rewiring the nation.

WA recently partnered with the federal government through a $3 billion loan facility to transition our energy transition.

In particular, to upgrade the Northwest grid in the Pilbara, where 40 per cent of the state's emissions are currently produced.

Now, we said several months ago that the first steps were being mapped out, so today I'm pleased to announce $708 million towards expanding and improving WA's main electricity grid.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the biggest investment in the South West grid in over 10 years, $575 million of this will build high capacity lines between Perth and Three Springs, 310 kilometres north of Perth.

A new 330 kilovolt double circuit transmission line between Malaga and Pinjar.

A new 132 gigavolt lines and reinforce our existing infrastructure in the northern suburbs.

Why is this investment in the South West Interconnected System necessary? Because it is fundamental to harnessing the renewable energy potential of the Midwest.

With wind and solar that are the envy of the world, the Midwest region has the capacity to propel WA to become a global leader in clean energy solutions.

That's why our upgrades are in focus on unlocking the Midwest potential.

Our upgrades will allow the South West grid to further tap into the existing wind power assets, but they also pave the way for new renewable generation projects currently in the pipeline.

It will allow for the connection of around one gigawatt of renewable energy to the network between Perth and Three Springs, and it has the potential to reduce emissions by around 2.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum as we move towards net zero.

Further to this, $133 million will go towards further planning early works and procurement of long lead items for the next stages of the South West Grid upgrade.

That includes key outcomes such as upgrades that will allow us to bring renewable energy into industrial hubs like Kwinana and Collie, or the next stage of the north to Geraldton line, increasing renewable supply and providing stepping point for the connection to Oakajee.

This investment in our state-owned network, and I emphasise our state-owned network, is a major step forward and shows how serious we are about decarbonising.

It's the beginning of an enormous program of works, and there will be further iterations reaching out to the rest of the grid, including the gold fields.

Ultimately, this network has powered WA for the last 70 years.

We're setting it up now to power the next generations sustainably, reliably and affordably.

As we all know, an essential part of this energy transition is investment.

We have made great inroads through a range of policies.

For example, our investment attraction fund is nurturing innovation and accelerating growth in our emerging industries.

The fund has previously supported energy industry projects including battery tech, biodiesel, hydrogen and solar innovations and yesterday I opened a new $60 million round for the Investment and Attraction Fund.

Only this time it will be entirely dedicated to new energy industries.

Earlier I listed our states' key attributes that will position us as a renewable energy powerhouse.

Another is our long history of innovation and the Investment Attraction Fund is about backing the spirit of innovation in WA and backing local industry to rise to the challenge of this energy transition.

But to really clear the path and get large businesses to establish themselves in WA, we need them in our strategic industrial areas.

We have 13 strategic industrial areas across the state, all with a substantial role in growing WA's economic prosperity.

These heavy industrial precincts are primed to facilitate major industrial projects across a range of priority sectors.

While these precincts host many industries from defence to manufacturing and space industries, they are increasingly destinations for battery manufacture, critical mineral refinement, hydrogen production, green steel and innovation.

We have recently allocated land to 14 major projects within the state strategic industrial areas, most of these for clean energy proposals.

In fact, we've allocated more land in the last year than in the last decade for industrial developments.

Altogether, these represent $104 billion worth of investment, which could generate thousands of construction jobs and thousands of operational jobs.

However, we recognise that global competition to attract clean energy projects is running hot.

It's true that our state has a range of advantages that make us a competitive investment destination, low sovereign risk, a highly skilled workforce, world class export infrastructure, strong ESG credentials.

But in an increasingly competitive world, we must continue to stay ahead.

So we are sending our message to companies with global scale clean energy projects to come to WA, be the first mover, bring your project to anchor in one of our strategic industrial areas and we will offer you a waiver for the first five years of your lease plus 100 per cent rebate on your option-to-lease fees.

This will unburden major projects through the critical construction phase or while production ramps up in the early stages.

It will be available for projects in the Anketell, Boodarie, Maitland, Mungari, Oakajee and Shotts Strategic Industrial areas.

The initiative will cost the government up to $162 million in foregone revenue, but we recognise the economic benefit of these multibillion dollar projects is far more than that.

The doors of economic opportunity are ajar.

Behind them await exciting projects like green steel, refining, battery products and so much more.

Backing this up, the WA government is making further investments to clear the path to net zero in our last budget, we allocated $2.8 billion towards renewable energy generation, storage and transmission.

This, of course included our big batteries in Kwinana and Collie, and together our three batteries combined will provide an energy to power up to one million homes for two hours, a major step forward towards our renewable energy future.

Leading up to today, we have confirmed a further $1 billion that comprises 708 billion towards our Southwest grid upgrades, $106 million for a strategic industrial area investment strategies, $60 million to boost clean energy businesses through the investment attraction fund.

I can confirm it also includes another $74.4 million towards sectoral emissions reduction strategies, that includes $31 million towards horizon powers, batteries and planning $11.2 million to extend the Clean Energy Future Fund.

$6.4 million to boost green approvals, cutting green tape, getting projects up faster and $4.2 million to progress carbon capture utilisation and storage for hard-to-abate activities, plus other smaller initiatives across the state.

Friends, thank you for being here today.

Today's summit is about recognising the journey our state has taken so far.

It's about identifying strengths and highlighting the areas where we can improve, but most importantly, it's about bringing everyone on board for the journey towards net zero and ensuring that everyone shares in the benefits, including our traditional owners who have cared for these lands for millennia.

And much more is possible, ensuring that we're in lockstep as we forge a credible and realistic path towards our goals.

I'm excited to have confirmed these key steps on behalf of the government today, all up $1 billion towards securing clean, reliable and affordable energy future for WA.

Today's discussions will explore the new frontiers of sustainability and innovation, and they'll delve into what's worked and not worked well in other places, and they'll look at how we can shape the energy landscape for the critical decades ahead.

The responsibility of today's attendees, your duties for today, first and foremost, share your ideas and insight, they might be the solutions for tomorrow and secondly, commit yourselves to collaborating to address this once-in-a-lifetime challenge and opportunity.

Together we will develop a path to net zero, for us, and just as importantly, the world.

Thank you.