Advancing Aboriginal Interests in the New South Wales Renewable Energy Transition

Author/editor: Norman, H, Briggs, C & Apolonio, T
Year published: 2023
Issue no.: 302


As the NSW government steers the transition of the energy system to renewable energy, we examine what opportunities this presents for Aboriginal communities.  The renewable energy transition could present opportunities for Aboriginal land holders in NSW to participate in new and sustainable economies, leverage land for renewable energy projects, address issues of energy security, derive benefits including collective income generation and capacity-building, and for Aboriginal values and aspirations to be built into the foundation and long-term operation of renewable energy projects.  To date, benefits for aboriginal communities have been limited but the NSW renewable energy zone model is the first to include First Nations economic participation and community support in renewable energy auction criteria.  Whilst the NSW approach should improve the employment, training and business participation, our research highlights more needs to be done to engage Aboriginal people and enable projects on Aboriginal land where ownership can underpin greater social and economic impact.  Our research reveals that Aboriginal land holders are optimistic about the possibilities of renewable energy and can see the benefits of being involved in this sector, but have limited resources to engage strategically in the bold energy transition plans. We argue that Local Aboriginal Land Councils have an important role to play at the interface of community, industry and government, and require support, further resources, and capacity-building in order to support their long-term participation in the state-wide energy transition.

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