5 regions to get a boost from renewable energy boom

Australia is on the verge of a renewable energy boom and an expert has named five regions set to reap benefits from the infrastructure pipeline that comes with it. 

InvestorKit’s founder and head of research, Arjun Paliwal, stated that Australia’s renewable industry is growing faster than ever, driven by the country’s commitment to the net zero target by 2050. 

While he described the end goal as “ambitious”, the expert said that tangible progress has been made to hit the target in the last few years.

“Renewable energy is contributing more and more of the country’s electricity. In 2021, 32.5 per cent of Australia’s electricity came from clean energy sources, according to the Clean Energy Australia Report 2022 — up by almost 5 per cent compared to the previous year,” Mr Paliwal stated. 

Additionally, he pointed out that all three levels of government have committed to short- and long-term carbon emissions reduction targets, which will see greater investment into renewable energy. 

He explained that this, in turn, will usher in the renewable energy boom, and the surrounding infrastructure pipeline will lead to a boost to local regional economies and property markets and ultimately lead to property prices rising and long-term capital growth for investors in those areas.

“Each renewable energy project creates hundreds, and even thousands, of jobs, particularly in its construction phase.

“This will see increased demand for housing in regional areas, a revitalisation of regional surrounding towns as new ‘locals’ bring money to hospitality and retail businesses, and an overall strengthening of its property market,” Mr Paliwal stated.  

He noted that the increase in projects, as well as renewable energy zones (or areas determined to have the greatest potential for renewable energy, such as wind, solar, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat) across regional Australia will also bring benefits to communities through new opportunities created for local economies.

InvestorKit identified five areas set to benefit from the green energy boom by analysing major renewable energy projects in various regions across Australia, along with regional economic and property market performance. 

Upon crunching the numbers, the regions set to reap price growth and capital gains from renewable energy infrastructures include Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Tamworth-Armidale, Dubbo, and Latrobe Valley. 

Mr Paliwal said property market performance in these key regional areas will experience a boost, as people migrate for jobs on renewable energy projects and demand for rental properties increase — making them strong areas for investment. 

Here is a closer look at the top five regions are predicted to get a power-up from Australia’s renewable energy boom:

 1. Toowoomba, Queensland 

With the city located in the heart of a Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone, Toowoomba is surrounded by $30 billion of in-progress and potential renewable energy projects, particularly in Western Downs.

According to InvestorKit, the top three projects in the area are: the MacIntyre Wind Farm Precinct valued at $1.96 billion, which is currently in construction and is estimated to create more than 650 jobs; the approved Bulli Creek Solar Farm valued at $1 billion and is set to generate around 300 jobs; and the proposed $980 million Big T Pumped Hydro Storage Project. 

Thousands of new jobs are also estimated to be generated along with 72 registered interest projects.

Mr Paliwal said that the region remains a bargain buy for investors, as the median house prices in the city remains affordable at $490,000 and has been recording steady growth in the last two years. 

In an indication that the region’s rental market is tightening, InvestorKit revealed that the number of rental listings has been declining — resulting in an extremely low vacancy rate and strong rise in rental prices in the last year. The low vacancy rate is expected to bolster rents in the area. 

2. Rockhampton, Queensland

Rockhampton is one of the major cities in the Central Queensland Renewable Energy Zone. There are a total of 67 registered interest projects in its vicinity, representing more than $39 billion in renewable energy investment and thousands of construction jobs. 

Mr Paliwal pointed out that the benefits that come with these projects go beyond the construction phase.  

“While construction jobs only create short-term benefits, renewable energy projects can boost the economy in the long term by strengthening sectors such as energy-intensive mineral processing, low emission manufacturing, agricultural equipment manufacturing and more,” the expert explained.

The top three projects in the region include the proposed $6.7 billion Central Queensland Power Project, which is estimated to create 4,500 construction and 550 operation jobs; the $1.61 billion H2-Hub Gladstone, which is forecasted to create around  700 new jobs; and the Clarke Creek Integrated Wind project, which is currently under construction.

Aside from being near these projects, the region has also delivered steady growth over the last two years, with the average price of a house in the area at $375,000. 

Additionally, Rockhampton’s rental market is extremely tight and has observed consecutive rises in rental prices over the past two years.

3. Tamworth and Armidale, NSW 

Located within the New England Renewable Energy Zone, Tamworth and Armidale were named by InvestorKit as the most viable sites for pumped-hydro development and currently have high-quality solar and wind power resources.

The region is expected to deliver up to $10.07 billion in private sector investment and is expected to provide over 830 operational jobs and 1,250 construction jobs. 

Among the top projects in the area is the proposed $1.25 billion Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project which is expected to create more than 600 construction and 30 operation jobs, followed by the $900 million Thunderbolt Energy Hub, delivering a similar number of new jobs.

Mr Paliwal noted that the unemployment rate in Tamworth and Armidale have been hovering at healthy levels of between 3.8 to 5.7 per cent over the past 12 months and the number of job ads have been increasing since 2020.

As construction on renewable energy projects kick off, the expert predicts the local job market and economy will go from “strength to strength”.

 4. Dubbo, NSW

Located in the centre of NSW’s Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone — the first declared zone in the country — Dubbo’s renewable energy investment is currently valued at $5 billion. 

In addition to having enormous potential for solar and wind farm developments, Dubbo’s proximity to Sydney and the business and investment opportunities it offers makes it an attractive area for buyers to invest in, according to InvestorKit. 

At the peak of construction activity in the area, Dubbo is forecasted to provide around 4,000 employment opportunities. 

Mr Paliwal highlighted that the region’s dwelling values has experienced growth since late 2021. Dubbo’s median house price currently sits at $420,000 and sale days on market have continued to decline for over a year — indicating Dubbo has high market pressure. 

Meanwhile, rental vacancy rates were described to be at “extremely low levels”, which have led to a strong rise in prices over the past 15 months. Mr Paliwal expects rents in the area to continue rising.

5. Latrobe Valley, Victoria 

With Latrobe Valley slated to become one of the six renewable energy zones in Victoria, InvestorKit said that the region would benefit from the renewable energy boom. 

While the major hub located in Gippsland has been negatively impacted by the shutdown of traditional power stations in the region, Mr Paliwal explained that the area’s existing power plant sites and transmission network — combined with an exceptional wind resource along the coastline — makes Latrobe Valley an ideal area to be transformed into a renewable energy hub.

Currently, Latrobe Valley has two proposed billion-dollar projects set to create thousands of new jobs, including the $8 billion Star of the South Offshore Wind Farm which is expected to generate 6,000 jobs in total, and the Gippsland Renewable Energy Park.

Over the past two years, Latrobe Valley’s housing market has been growing steadily, with its median house price currently at around $393,000. 

Interestingly, its rental listings are higher than the same time last year, but it remains at extremely low vacancy rates. InvestorKit noted that the high rental market pressure has led to rental prices in LaTrobe Valley surging consecutively over the past two years. 

SOURCE: Smart Property Investment By Zarah Mae Torrazo  28/9/22

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