2021 WA Water Industry Breakfast – Wrap Up Report

Water’s Role in WA’s Energy transition to Net Carbon Zero’
Wednesday 28 July 2021 – Perth | Bunbury | Webinar

Once again, the Western Australian Branch of the Australian Water Association was pleased to be able to host in-person breakfasts in Perth @ the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and Bunbury @ The Lighthouse, as well as streaming speakers via webinar.  The theme of this year’s WA Water Industry Breakfast was
Water’s Role in WA’s Energy transition to Net Carbon Zero.

We were pleased to welcome Michelle Andrews, the new Director-General of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, to her first water industry breakfast. As she noted, there is plenty of keep her department busy, delivering the policy reform required to support climate action and address the wicked problems of water and energy.

Our keynote speaker, Professor Peter Newman, AO reflected on the progress Western Australia has made in moving from a centralised energy system to a distributed system: from microgrids in regional areas to the massive uptake of solar power across Perth’s outer suburbs.  There have been surprises along the way – no-one predicted that the price of solar power would drop by 89% in just 10 years! While challenges remain, he is confident Net Zero is next and that it needs to be delivered as quickly as possible.

A panel discussion followed the keynote address with the introduction of four panellists, each bringing a different perspective to water’s role in WA’s energy transition.  Nicole Lockwood, Deputy Chair of Infrastructure WA, spoke about the recent release of the State Government’s Draft Infrastructure Strategy and renewable hydrogen vision as part of adaptive plans to reach Net Zero.  

Pat Donovan, CEO of Water Corporation then spoke about the magnitude of the emissions associated not only with water production through desalination and groundwater replenishment but also wastewater treatment.  While Water Corporation faces a challenge, they also see opportunities to drive change through action both through installing renewables and resource recovery of biogas.
The next speaker, Sam Lee Mohan, from ATCO Gas, provided insight into some of the innovative projects being developed in Western Australia – including the generation of hydrogen fuel at the pilot Clean Energy Innovation Hub at Jandakot and potential scaling up at the Clean Energy Innovation Park at Warradage windfarm in the Mid-West region.  

The final panel speaker Jahna Cedar OAM, Executive Director at IPS Management Consultants, reminded us of the importance of authentic, on-country engagement and co-design as well as the importance of economic investment thorough Aboriginal owned businesses to ensure revenue is shared with Traditional Owners.         

The panel discussion focused on future challenges – from the need to shift state development from market led to enabled by government, to developing performance indicators that can measure and manage change across all government agencies through to the need to address unconscious bias that disadvantages Aboriginal peoples.  Building the right workforce capability to manage more complex, data driven systems was also identified as a key challenge for the state.  

Overall the panellists agreed, while many challenges remain, there are also many opportunities to drive change and hope that Net Zero can be achieved ahead of target.

Thanks to the WA Event Working Group, led by Rachel Evans and including Fabiana Tessele, Alan Toomey, Chenoa Lange, Donald Crawford, Kelly Lavell, Peter Moore and Helen McGettigan plus AWA team members, Kyllie Whitehead and Elyse Bishenden, for delivering another excellent event. 
Without the support of our program partners, we would not be able to deliver these events to you. Special thanks also goes out to