Infrastructure assets key to achieving emission-reduction targets

Government Relations Manager Paul Purcell

In a bit of a change up this month, APGA sat down with its own Government Relations Manager Paul Purcell to get his take on the state of industry and what it is looking to achieve in the next five years. 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your previous experience in industry?

Since I was young, I have been a complete believer in the power of storytelling. I believe stories inspire us to grow and realise self-improvement, connect us with the communities we live in and, most importantly, help us realisation our individual and collective aspirations.

It’s why I began my career as journalist – to investigate, report upon and play a small role in helping solve the issues that plague our community. While I was hesitant to leave journalism behind, I wanted to actively do something about the challenges we’re facing in Australia. It’s what inspired me to search for roles where I could have hands-on impact through policymaking and advocacy – first as a senior staffer to a Federal Parliamentarian and now with the APGA.

How have you adapted to your role here?

The APGA has an excellent team of professionals from all walks of life who bring a range of perspectives on the challenges faced by industry. But above that, they’re all just great people which has made the transition into a new role as easy as humanly possible!

What drew you to the APGA and the role?

The decarbonisation journey will be extremely challenging for all Australians, and every industry has an important role to play to achieve our collective goal of net zero by 2050. Here in the gas infrastructure industry, our job is bigger than many other industries, but we are already at the forefront of the decarbonisation effort with a range of initiatives to rapidly reduce emissions at the lowest cost for consumers. For more than 100 years, our infrastructure has been delivering low-cost, reliable, and safe energy to millions of Australian households and industries. As we move toward net zero, I am excited to play a small part with the APGA and the broader industry in helping ensure Australia’s green, reliable, and vibrant energy future.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing our industry at the moment?

Every industry is looking for cost-effective ways to reduce emissions in line with state and federal government climate targets. While it isn’t a sector-specific issue, it is one in which the midstream gas industry must work with the entire business community to collectively achieve.

How do you see our industry evolving in the next five years?

The importance of our pipelines and gas networks in helping Australian achieve its emission-reduction targets will not diminish, particularly as the domestic renewable gas industry begins to mature. At the moment, a lot of the focus has been upstream on how to source and deliver innovative technologies like green hydrogen with the benefits to filter downstream in the gas supply chain. However, both up and downstream must work in tandem to ensure infrastructure assets are ready to support the next generation of gaseous fuels. It is incredibly important to put infrastructure at the centre of the solution, and we’re working with governments and other industries to ensure our support networks are ready to deliver when called upon. 

How do you believe the APGA can stay competitive and adapt to these changes?

The entire gas supply chain is already moving at lightning speed to find innovative solutions to decarbonise while also staying cost competitive to ensure Australians receive affordable and reliable green energy. We know we can provide the best and most cost-efficient solutions to the energy dilemma, now it’s about showing the community how we’re going to deliver them. 

How do you stay current and informed on industry developments and trends?

I read everything. From mainstream media to trade journals, it is imperative for me in this role to be able to talk in an informative and engaging manner with key stakeholders. 

How do you think your role and current objectives will contribute to the overall success of the APGA?

Even the most basic conversation about Australia’s holistic energy system is a 10-minute conversation to cover all the bases in the most reductionist way. And it’s important to note, very few lawmakers have a background in energy or engineering, which is why we need to be able to communicate in a way that’s honest and factual, but also accessible. 

What are your future career aspirations and how do you see this role helping you achieve them?

My career aspirations are entirely aligned with that of my job here at the APGA – helping lawmakers and regulators find a cost-effective way to decarbonise as quickly as possible.

What would you like to see happen in the next 12 months?

The implementation of a Renewable Gas Target will be a critical step to help unlock investment and emission reduction opportunities. An ambitious Renewable Gas Target will help deliver a rapid and least-cost pathway to reach net zero emissions across a broad range of sectors, including hard-to-abate industries.

Presently, infrastructure operators are ready to cut scope 1 & 2 emissions drastically and a number of pipelines and networks are technically ready to accommodate renewable gases such as hydrogen and biomethane. With the right government initiatives and the involvement of the full gas value chain, greater emissions reductions can be enabled whilst sustaining domestic gas demand – which remains a critical resource for sectors that cannot be easily electrified. 

This article featured in the March edition of The Australian Pipeliner. 

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