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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Judd Harris

The development potential of renewable energy in remote Indigenous communities

Aboriginal Australians experience lower levels of education, employment and income than the nonIndigenous
population. A number of Aboriginal people live in remote Aboriginal communities,
some of which have been characterised: as offering limited susta inable development opportunit ies;
having limited, and mobile, residents; and lacking in economic flows from institutional capital.
Indigenous entrepreneurship has been promoted as a means to addressing inequalities between
indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. Western Austra lian Indigenous businesses are
presently involved in large-scale renewable energy projects. The existence of businesses within the
renewables labour force is a positive example of Aboriginal organisations utilising custodianship
rights, that also contribute to global efforts in mitiga ting the impact of climate change. Indigenous
entrepreneurs could be in a position of reducing the carbon impact that associates with the
resource industry's high electricity demanding operations.

This work has geographically focused on Western Australia (WA). The research used mixed methods
to explore Western Australian Aboriginal entrepreneurs interested in renewable energy
development and businesses currently involved in renewable energy related work. Aboriginal
custodianship of 'Country' has placed some Aboriginal businesses in strategic positions to engage
in emergent large scale renewable energy project s. Aboriginal businesses have been successful
through the establishment of joint-venture partnerships with energy expert companies.

The principal recommendation of this work is; further research into the interface between Western
Australian Aboriginal businesses, the resource industry, and-renewable energy. Monitoring of
community outcomes would be necessary to understand the sustainability and social impact of
indigenous and non-indigenous partnerships in renewable energy.