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The SERREE initiative was conceived in mid-2011 when a small group identified the potential to develop the region’s economy through promoting the growth of the renewable energy industry in the region. The initiative recognises the cross-border synergies of – the abundance of natural renewable energy resources and the need for jobs in the NSW region, and the industry investment potential of the ACT’s renewable energy policies and its wealth of world-class research capacity.

In 2012, SERREE secured federal Department of Industry funding to map and scope the renewable energy industry in the south east NSW-ACT region. A Project Officer was employed in March 2013 to consult with the region’s renewable energy stakeholders and build a comprehensive regional picture of the local industry from the ground up. A SERREE Project Steering Committee was formed – including representation from Regional Development Australia (RDA): RDA Australian Capital Territory, RDA Southern Inland, and RDA Far South Coast, and across the tiers of government including the ACT – Economic Development Directorate, NSW – Office of Environment and Heritage, and the federal Department of Industry.

During the Project, the SERREE Network grew exponentially and now includes some 1,000 stakeholders, drawn from:

  • across the range of renewable energy technologies – solar, wind, hydro, bio, geothermal, wave,
  • across (and beyond) the south east NSW-ACT region, and
  • across the diversity of the sector’s business and industry, education and research and community groups.

The SERREE Steering Committee identified that the sector’s largest development potential would be led by business and industry, and so progressed an agenda that promoted industry development initiatives, i.e. identifying and optimising opportunities for further industry growth, and organising Business Forums to facilitate information sharing, networking and collaboration across the diversity of stakeholders.

The SERREE Project was set up to engage and consult with the region’s key renewable energy stakeholders including Australian, NSW, ACT and local governments, industry and business, research and education, and community sectors to – map, catalogue and scope the region’s current and future capacity for renewable energy sector development.

Funding for the SERREE Project was provided by the Australian Government, and administered through the Department of Industry in conjunction with Regional Development Australia ACT. Funding was provided for an 18-month period: 1 January 2013 – 30 June 2014, with well-defined deliverables to be met by the Project.

Funding support has enabled SERREE to:

  • identify opportunities and facilitate development of the regional renewable energy industry’s growth, resilience and diversity;
  • link stakeholders to form collaborative partnerships and joint projects;
  • allow for development of local skills capacity that meets the needs of the local industry;
  • expand and extend access to renewable energy skills development – education and training opportunities;
  • engage the support of regional communities through improving understanding and appreciation for renewable energy development.

Meeting Project objectives has provided a number of benefits for stakeholders, and for the region as a whole, by way of:

  • Building an exemplar renewable energy region that attracts a sustainable flow of new renewable energy projects – regional investment and jobs;
  • Boosting the well-being of regional residents and the liveability of regional communities;
  • Developing a regional workforce with the necessary skills and capacity to service this pipeline of new development;
  • Leading Australia in the research, development and deployment of innovative renewable energy technologies; and
  • Fostering community wide support for renewable energy projects.

A key recommendation of the SERREE Project is to transition the Network into the SERREE Industry Cluster –  a regional exemplar of renewable energy industry excellence, with a global footprint.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Regional Development Australia (RDA) ACT signed a three-year Funding Agreement (6 August 2014), that will support the establishment of the SERREE Industry Cluster in the south east NSW-ACT region – a regional exemplar of renewable energy industry excellence, with a global footprint.

RDA ACT is the Cluster funding administrator and SERREE Initiative lead on behalf of partner organisations who have committed additional financial support including the NSW and ACT Governments, RDA Southern Inland, and SERREE Corporate Members.