Energy transitions are at the forefront of global discussions, reshaping our future.

The COP28 Global Renewables and Energy Efficiency Pledge recognised the need for a significant increase in the deployment of renewables and energy efficiency improvements on a global scale by 2030. This is necessary to maintain warming well below 2°C and limit warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement.

This pledge also saw the commitment of signatories (including Australian, New Zealand and Singapore Governments) to ‘work together to triple the world’s installed renewable energy generation capacity to at least 11,000 GW by 2030, taking into consideration different starting points and national circumstances.

At Beca, we're not just participants in this change; we're actively working with our clients to connect possibility with reality in the future energy landscape.

The energy sector is a behemoth of change, shaped by the intricate interplay of geopolitical, trading, and resource dynamics. We are finding ourselves at the epicentre of transformation. Urgency within the sector grows with each challenge: the demands of stakeholder engagement, environmental rigours, and the escalating needs to rapidly deliver key infrastructure.

Our global imperative to address climate change demands a unified front and collective innovation. We need to leverage multi-agency collaboration, especially in planning, developing, and delivering the crucial electricity transmission networks underpinning our decarbonisation goals. 

Yet, we find ourselves at a crossroads. Acceptance of the urgent need for change is widespread, but the sector's response often lacks the necessary coordination and collaboration. Diverse regulations, drawn-out procurement processes, and disparate risk transfer approaches impede our collective response's pace and efficacy.

Within challenge lies great opportunity

The challenges we face as a sector are as complex as they are pressing; communities calling for transparency, navigation of complex regulatory environments, supply chains stretched thin by the sector's growth, and costs climbing skyward. 

Yet within these challenges lie opportunities for evolution to transform the traditional approaches to procurement, to accelerate infrastructure programme and project delivery, supply chain growth, and build economies of scale. Embracing this momentum, we can look for insights from successful models of collaboration that have already paved the way in other areas to achieve similar outcomes. 

Notably, the Te Tupu Ngātahi Supporting Growth Alliance programme in Auckland demonstrates how unity in purpose and action leads to transformational achievements – delivering a comprehensive transport infrastructure corridor network to support Auckland’s burgeoning growth over the next three decades.

Beyond planning, the programme has cultivated a dedicated team focused on complex issues, drawing from a pool of owner participants, consultants, and legal advisors. This collaborative ecosystem has achieved far more than any participant could have achieved alone — a synergy fostering continuous innovation, community involvement, and lasting legacies.  

Collaboration's role in a crisis

As we face the climate emergency, the parallels between post-disaster infrastructure responses, such as to floods and earthquakes, and our energy transition challenges are also striking. There is a clear and consistent need for cohesive action and heightened collaboration — uniting governments, infrastructure agencies, and supply chains to restore and enhance our infrastructure planning and delivery now and into the future.

New Zealand’s alliance contracts in the aftermath of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes provide such a blueprint for success (see, for example, SH25A Taparahi Bridge). These contracts forged organisations with common goals, inclusive governance, and a shared commitment to providing the necessary resources. With integrated teams and a shared risk-reward framework, decisions were made swiftly, often with limited information, yet resulted in enhanced efficiency, innovation, and re-connected communities.

Partnering for success in water, waste and energy 

In Australia, our collaboration with Yarra Valley Water's groundbreaking ReWaste facility exemplifies innovation in sustainability and community partnership. Beca brought to the table our technical expertise, and together with Yarra Valley Water and over 20 businesses providing organic waste materials, we have successfully transformed significant amounts of food waste into clean energy. This joint effort is powering thousands of homes and contributing to Yarra Valley’s ambition to produce 100% renewable energy by 2025. 

Our dynamic seven-year partnership with Greater Western Water, operated as the CH2M Beca Joint Venture, exemplifies the transformative power of strategic alliances in the utility sector. Through our combined efforts in planning, design, and delivery, we've not only brought the Advanced Waste Treatment Plant at Melton to fruition but also fostered a culture of innovation and long-term investment in sustainable practices. 

This collaboration has been crucial in realising outcomes that would not have been possible individually, such as the facility's processing of 13 million litres of sewage each day with an innovative nutrient recovery process. This process effectively captures and repurposes phosphorus and nitrogen, thereby significantly mitigating environmental pollution. This collaboration between CH2M, Beca, and Greater Western Water encourages investment in state-of-the-art technologies and a shared risk management approach, for resilience and adaptability. This joint initiative underscores our commitment to environmental stewardship and propels us toward the principles of a circular economy. The plant’s contributions are significant, cutting greenhouse gas emissions by over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually, which supports the state's drive for sustainability and carbon neutrality.

The joint effort stands as a thriving model of how we can turn waste management into an energy solution, reflecting our shared commitment to progress, sustainability, and adaptive strategies in the face of growth and environmental challenges.

Into our energy future

Collaboration is about bring together diverse expertise to foster economic and environmental progress. It's about a shared vision, clear roles, managed risks, transparent decision-making, and the certainty of investment that adapts with each new learning – underpinned by a willingness to embrace new methods and frameworks. 

As we look ahead, the potential of utilising collaboration frameworks as an approach to accelerate transmission network development becomes clear.  These types of innovative, united efforts are key to developing robust supply chains, overcoming industry challenges and enabling the acceleration of energy transition.

Together, we must invest in partnerships with defined outcomes in mind — outcomes that transcend traditional project deliverables and pave the way for knowledge sharing and sector-wide innovation.

In Australia and New Zealand, such cooperative endeavours are already starting to enhance the energy sector landscape, marking a collective path toward a sustainable future and setting foundations for industry-wide transformation.

For a more indepth report on the discussions and outcomes from the 2023 Conference of Parties (COP28) global climate summit, and looking ahead to Asia Pacific's path to progress, click here

About the Author
John Duffy

Business Director - Energy Advisory

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