How to invest in Australian renewable energy

All over Australia, popping up across its varied territory, wind and solar farms are growing in number.

Do you want to invest in Australian renewable energy? But did you ever stop to wonder why they are where they are?

The correct answer is the obvious one: Wind farms are generally found where it’s windy. Solar farms are in areas of regular sun. It’s true, of course, but it’s also a lot more complicated than that.

Say you are an investor, looking to kickstart a renewable energy project. How do you know where best to put it? How can you know with any certainty what the return on investment will be, given the different conditions at play?

What is the terrain like? Is there too much cloud cover? How about access to the electrical grid? Read on.

How do I invest in Australian renewable energy?

The Australian Renewable Energy Mapping Infrastructure project (AREMI) is a unique and powerful platform. It brings together hundreds of disparate data sets, which are converted and visually displayed in 3D maps in your web browser.

AREMI is a publicly available platform that aims to provide the right information, to the right people, at the right time. It can help renewable energy developers and regulators make decisions about the most effective place for projects by allowing them to map proposed sites against resources such as sun, wind and existing transmission lines.

This visual data mapping tool leads the globe in technical innovation and user experience. And that means Australian investors in renewable energy have a meaningful advantage over the rest of the world.

For what really amounts to a specialist tool, designed for those considering projects of significant size, use of the platform has been extraordinary since it launched in 2015. AREMI has assisted 35,000 visitors across almost 90,000 sessions, and received more than 100,000 page views. The renewable energy wave that is cresting around the nation would most likely look very different without it.

To date, the platform hosts over 750 data sets, including renewable energy, electricity infrastructure, transport infrastructure (and other major infrastructure), weather, topography, population, environmental, environmental, cadastral and boundary data.

It allows anyone to access these multiple, up-to-date geospatial data sets in one convenient, easy-to-read location.

How does ARENA support Australian renewable energy investment?

ARENA has contributed $2.1 million towards the $3.18 million costs of building the resource. Why? Because putting the best information in the hands of those who want to help build a renewable energy future leads to better decision-making, better designed projects and a more efficient, more effective shift towards the renewable energy future that is ARENA’s core goal.

The AREMI platform is critical to the transformation of our energy system to a cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable energy supply. It’s there for you to use. Want to set up a biomass production facility? It can help your business identify the best site that is close to a biomass source, transmission lines, and other critical infrastructure.

What is AREMI?

AREMI allows users to overlay different types of data on its open-source, three dimensional mapping platform, making complex information easier to understand. It is a tool to create transparency and encourage better, more efficient decision-making. AREMI users report dramatic time savings in collating data to help drive business cases for investment.

Craig Morgan, Managing Director of energy consultancy Northmore Gordon understands well the power that well-connected data offers.

AREMI lowers the barriers to sourcing cost effective renewable fuels as alternatives to natural gas,” he said. “Recently we used AREMI to assess fuel options, for a potential bioenergy project, for a major industrial player. If successful they would become one of the lowest emitting sites in their group.”

The project, which is due to reach completion in 2019, will register an economic impact, saving businesses and investors in time, money and other resources by allowing better-informed decisions when developing business cases for investment.

Producing a platform that includes so many overlapping data sets requires serious cooperation. AREMI involves collaboration between more than 20 different data custodians, five software engineers and user experience designers, and more than 150 users to achieve a high level of data integration.

It is a partnership led by CSIRO’s Data61 in partnership with Geosciece Australia and the Clean Energy Council. And it’s one that ARENA is proud to support and fund.

This article was originally written by Daniel Silkstone, former Head of Content, ARENA.