Fabian Le Gay Brereton

Fabian Le Gay Brereton and Pete Tickler have left ERM Power, the company that bought out the technology startup they founded, Greensense, three years ago. Tickler is taking time out to travel around Australia and Le Gay Brereton is doing some consultancy work.

Le Gay Brereton says Greensense is still operating at ERM and going strong.

“The plan now is to do some consulting in Perth”, says Brereton, it’s an interesting time in energy. WA is not part of the NEM (the National Energy Market), so has a unique opportunity to navigate the renewable transition, and the government recently announced a new task force to plan the exit from coal”, Le Gay Brereton says.

“WA, along with Queensland and South Australia, has the highest number of rooftop solar installations, which is causing some challenges, so the market here has to respond.

“There is more capacity in rooftop solar in WA than in the coal generation fleet, and the amount of solar being produced means that there is very low demand for electricity from the grid in the middle of the day, causing negative electricity prices and the potential for risks to system security.”

The transition from coal will take some time, Le Gay Brereton says, and will rely not just on more wind and solar, but on gas, storage, and intelligent digital solutions to manage energy resources.

But although the energy market is doing its bit to transition to the new clean economy, the commercial property market isn’t as progressive as the eastern states.

Demand for sustainability in Perth is not as strong, Le Gay Brereton says, and he puts this down to the nature of business in the West. Most of the corporations leading on sustainability are not based in Perth but in Sydney or Melbourne.

So there’s less drive in the West for better performance. “There’s not as much happening in Perth on sustainability but the state is getting really progressive on energy.”

“However there are some great startups in WA showing leadership in sustainability, like Climate Clever helping schools tackle climate change, Spaces Alive, addressing the human side of sustainable buildings, and Tiller Rides, developing an innovative e-bike for sustainable urban transport”, Le Gay Brereton says.

A notable exception on the corporate front is Vicinity Shopping Centres, with a recent high profile commitment of more than $70 million to solar being driven out of Perth.

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