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Commission presents bold energy idea at Major Projects Conference

Jul 4, 2017

Pilbara Development Commission Director Economic Development, Land and Infrastructure Chris Le Serve, fronted a 300-strong crowd in Perth on 20 June to deliver a presentation on the transformational opportunities that will help secure the Pilbara’s future economic prosperity.

The presentation drew comparisons between the Pilbara and the Finish city of Vaasa, which is leveraging its proximity to Europe’s largest lithium deposit to attract a Tesla Gigafactory.

“The purpose of the presentation was to put the Pilbara on the map and get people thinking about the transformational role our region should play in meeting future global energy demand,” Mr Le Serve said.

“Vaasa’s proposal has attracted wide support and I think we have a lot to learn from this entrepreneurial approach to attracting investment to the Pilbara.”

“It was a bold comparison, but it really got people thinking about what’s possible for our region. Potential gigawatt-scale renewable energy projects are already being discussed in the region to capitalise on the Pilbara’s solar resources, proximity to Asia and high quality export infrastructure. If any one of these projects materialises, the economic benefits will be substantial.”

The presentation highlighted the case study of American car maker, energy storage company and solar panel manufacturer, Tesla Inc. which is expected to announce up to four new Gigafactory locations this year to meet projected demand for its car and energy products.

The Office of Economic Development in Nevada, US, where Tesla’s first Gigafactory commenced production earlier this year, estimated the factory would result in 6,500 direct operational jobs and an additional 16,200 indirect jobs, with a total annual economic impact of $USD 5.4 billion.

“The Pilbara has some of the world’s largest lithium deposits on its doorstep, so it’s important we explore the supply-chain possibilities of value-adding to the mineral extraction process by manufacturing the end-product,” Mr Le Serve said.

“The Commission will continue to be a strong advocate for economic growth in the Pilbara by positioning the region as an attractive location for renewable energy projects.”

The 8th Annual WA Major Projects Conference provides a platform for discussion about WA’s new and future projects. The conference also included presentations from Deloitte Access Economics, Curtin University School of Built Environment and the Outback Highway Development Council.

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