Welcome to the March edition of The Australian Pipeliner

APGA Chief Executive Officer Steve Davies welcomes our readers to the March edition of The Australian Pipeliner.

2024 is well underway and I have high hopes this is going to be a great year for our industry. This month’s theme is water, and it is really good to see a number of significant projects progressing well.

While we tend to focus on the implications of the energy transition for gaseous infrastructure (not just natural gas but hydrogen and carbon dioxide amongst others), there are equally large consequences for water pipelines.

We’ve enjoyed a few years of above average rainfall across most of the country, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the likelihood that climate change will lead to changing weather patterns and a growing demand for bulk water transport.

Water is a fundamental input into green hydrogen and, whatever the ultimate size of this industry, large quantities of water will be being transported to industrial-scale electrolysers wherever there is hard-to-abate industry.

The Federal Government’s Hydrogen Headstart program has shortlisted applicants for the first tranche of significant funding and the list provides some insight into the types of applications we can expect of see large-scale deployment of hydrogen in the years ahead, so I encourage you to go and have a look.

As we contemplate the size of the infrastructure task in the decades ahead (I think it is a lot bigger than most of us are anticipating) the fundamental issues of land access and stakeholder engagement need to be given the highest priority. The pipeline industry has an outstanding track record in this space, and it is critical that we do not become complacent.

In early February, the Australian Energy Infrastructure Commissioner released its first Community Engagement Review. It did not get a lot of attention, but it has some very concerning data that all infrastructure sectors should be mindful of as we try to build the next generation of infrastructure across the county. Noting that review focussed specifically on electricity projects:

  • 90 per cent of survey respondents disagreed that they received relevant information in response to a concern raised.
  • 89 per cent disagreed that their concern was managed in a timely manner.
  • 93 per cent disagreed that they received a satisfactory resolution to concerns raised.

Whatever processes were followed by project developers, at a minimum these numbers reflect very high expectations from land holders and communities impacted by projects.

It is heartening to me that pipeline projects have been both delivered and surveyed across Australia in the last few years without this kind of negative sentiment, it shows we are taking the necessary steps to satisfy most people.

Well done to everyone in our industry involved in this key activity! Keep up the good work and be mindful of the level of expectation out there in the community.

All the best.

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

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