Concentrated solar thermalProject CSP Pilot Plant
This report presents an overview of and discussion about Vast Solar’s external engagement and community consultation activities as the company undertook work to plan and seek approval to construct and commission a world-first modular CSP Pilot Plant in regional Australia.
Community consultation and engagement is integral to good business practice and responsible corporate citizenship. Environmental planning and approvals processes require respectful and transparent consultation and the provision of information in a timely, accessible manner. For new industries, such as wind power and CSP, these requirements can be especially pertinent. Authentic consultation and community liaison can assist to inform and to foster community understanding and potential support and acceptance for new projects and technologies and/or assist in assuaging possible concerns.
ARENA encourages grant recipients to develop and implement appropriate community engagement strategies. New community consultation guidelines have been forthcoming in the renewable energy sector since plans and first steps for the CSP Pilot Plant commenced (especially for wind projects). From its commencement, Vast Solar has been committed to open and respectful engagement with our neighbours at Jemalong and in the greater Forbes community and we have built strong and enduring relationships with our local community and the Forbes Shire Council.
As a small technology company developing and demonstrating novel technology involving complex industrial engineering and some materials that may be perceived to be hazardous, Vast Solar’s strategic stakeholders and communities of interest are diverse. They include industry participants from the energy retail and distribution sectors, industrial supply chain partners and expert manufacturing and construction contractors, as well as academic and industry based researchers and innovators. Our strategic stakeholders also include State and Local government agencies and statutory authorities with responsibility for the heritage and the environment, water resources, and development planning and approvals processes as well as fire and emergency services.
Developing and maintaining positive and professional relationships with our stakeholders is integral to how we do business and to how we build and maintain the trust and respect of our neighbours and local community, our staff, academic and industry peers, our investors and strategic partners including the Australian Government, through ARENA.
Effective external engagement and communication – formal meetings, community consultation, media, person-to-person meetings – help to establish and reinforce a company’s social mandate to operate in the community.