The Infrastructure-Supported Renewable Shift

Andrew Schroth

Director, New Business VIC/SA
With a 56% increase in global demand for electricity by 2040, energy talk is everywhere. From water cooler chats to messaging from all levels of government, discussion about the shift from fossil fuels to renewables is pervasive.

Energy and electricity infrastructure markets are forecasted to expand from circa $5B to $10B per annum over the next decade2, resulting in a growing demand for significant infrastructure to support this transition.

The landscape 

Australia’s focus on renewables aligns with global efforts to cut carbon emissions from fossil fuels in favour of improved energy efficiency and sustainability. On top of being rich in wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, wave/tidal power3 and bioenergy4 energy sources, Australia is also considered a potential hub of hydrogen production5. No wonder this country is well-placed to prosper. But what about the infrastructure to service these goals?  

Moving from potential to delivery is where BG&E comes in. Our expertise positions us to play a pivotal role in shaping infrastructure development. Innovative design of renewable energy projects, retrofitting and upgrading existing assets through adaptive reuse, and crafting energy storage solutions are just some of our skills. 

Opportunities abound 

Despite the prominence of renewables post-2016 Paris Agreement, in 2019, fossil fuels, including natural black and brown coal and coal seam gas (CSG), still constituted 79% of Australia’s electricity generation6.  

By 2022, Australia sourced 32% of its total electricity from renewables7, aiming for 50% by 20258 and expected to rise to 69% by 20309

Shifting this landscape is challenging, but the undeniable cost-effectiveness is gaining traction. 

Market dynamics 

Understanding the big picture requires factoring in the facets currently influencing the market.  

  1. Capacity, policies, targets and support 

In recent years, Solar Photovoltaic (PV) and wind power have spearheaded the surge in renewables, with over 3.69 million PV installations in Australia as of December 31, 202310 , and wind contributing 10% to total energy generation in 202111

The economic competitiveness of renewables has significantly increased due to the affordability of solar panels and wind turbines, with government support and economies of scale further driving global deployment. 

Governments worldwide now employ measures like feed-in tariffs, standards, incentives, and carbon pricing to propel the adoption of renewables. Ambitious targets underscore commitments, fostering investor confidence and fuelling market expansion. 

  1. Tech innovation and global efforts 

Technological breakthroughs in Solar PV, wind turbines, energy storage, and grid integration amplify the viability of renewable energy. Ongoing R&D continue to further advancements, boost efficiency and lower the costs of renewable systems. 

In the wake of the Paris Agreement, the world is leaning into renewables and limiting global warming. For a low-carbon future, initiatives like the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)12  and Mission Innovation13  foster collaboration, knowledge and tech-sharing. 

  1. Investment and jobs 

Renewables present lucrative investment opportunities. Institutional investors, private entities and venture capitalists are backing projects like solar and wind farms, energy storage, and smart grids. Green bonds and sustainable financing further fuel market growth. 

Potential for significant job creation commands a skilled workforce for project development, construction, operation, and maintenance. Growth in the sector brings opportunity for local economies by promoting employment, investments, and innovation. 

Market challenges 

Like any significant shift, it’s not always smooth sailing. Here are some issues that underpin decision-making.  

  1. Policy Uncertainty and Market Trends 

Changeable government policies and a lack of long-term planning can cause an unstable environment, undermining investor confidence and hindering adequate sector investment. 

Initially designed for fossil fuel-based generation, Australia’s energy market design and regulations compound this challenge by posing obstacles in adjusting to the unique characteristics of renewables. These include intermittent generation and distributed resources, along with addressing issues like pricing, market mechanisms, and rules for seamless integration. 

Securing funding for large projects remains a challenge. Developers in the renewable energy market grapple with accessing affordable capital, attracting investors, and mitigating financial risks. 

  1. Integration, infrastructure and interplay 

Ensuring grid stability poses a challenge, requiring infrastructure investment, storage, and advanced management systems for integrating intermittent sources like solar and wind. 

Australia’s vast size and dispersed population present obstacles in building transmission infrastructure, necessitating substantial investments in connecting remote renewable resources to the grid. 

Successfully navigating the transition to renewables involves managing the interplay with existing fossil fuel-based power generation. Balancing coal phase-out while addressing economic and social impacts on communities reliant on traditional sources is a significant hurdle. 

  1. Opinion and workforce  

Community acceptance of renewables in Australia14 is widespread, but particular projects can encounter local opposition with concerns about environmental impacts, aesthetics, noise, and land use. These issues can cause delays and legal challenges, which inhibit project development. 

The growing renewable energy sector demands an ample supply of skilled workers. Engineering, project management, and maintenance personnel are crucial, as are tailored training programs. 

Market Opportunities 

BG&E leads the way in the three main facets of renewable opportunities: generation, transmission and storage.  


  1. Wind 

BG&E designs and analyses turbine foundations and conducts site evaluations and structural assessments for stability. We assist in site selection, land preparation, and wind farm infrastructure, including roads, drainage, and transmission routes. 

  1. Solar 

We design and assess solar panel support structures for rooftops and ground and tracking systems. We ensure structures withstand environmental loads, including wind and seismic conditions, and site preparation, grading, and foundation design for solar array installation. 

  1. Hydropower 

In collaboration with our Engineering partners, BG&E has created a one-stop Engineering shop (H30) to design and analyse dams, spillways, penstocks, and hydraulic structures, ensuring structural stability, hydraulic flow, and environmental impact. We manage water diversion, canals, and irrigation for hydropower projects. 

  1. Geothermal 

We back geothermal projects, designing and examining power plant structures like turbine halls, cooling systems, and well pads to ensure integrity in corrosive environments. Our water expertise extends to geothermal wells, fluid systems, and underground piping networks. 


Leveraging civil and structural design expertise, we facilitate the construction of transmission lines, connecting renewable energy sites to the grid. We also provide planning and design services for substations, including site selection, foundation design, electrical layout, and associated civil works associated with buildings, roads, and drainage systems. 

For grid expansion and upgrades, we identify areas for improvement, design new transmission corridors, and retrofit or upgrade existing infrastructure to handle higher electricity loads.  

Incorporating advanced technologies, durability and materials assessments and construction engineering advice, we optimise transmission line materials, construction techniques, and foundation designs to optimise cost, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.  


  1. Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) are short-term energy storage facilities which BG&E can assist with site selection, accessibility, geotechnical conditions, foundation and structural design, and safety considerations for enclosures or buildings. 
  1. Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) is long-duration energy storage for which H30 can design necessary infrastructure like lower reservoirs, penstocks, tunnels, and powerhouses and provide geological surveys, hydraulic analysis, and structural considerations. 
  1. Compressed-Air Energy Storage (CAES) systems store energy by compressing and releasing air to drive turbines during peak electricity demand. Design of underground storage caverns, pipelines, compression and expansion facilities, including associated civil works, involves geotechnical assessments to ensure structural robustness and effective system operation. 
  1. Thermal Energy Storage (TES) captures and stores heat or cold for later use. This requires TES infrastructure like insulated storage and distribution systems where BG&E can advise on structural stability and material selection for optimal efficiency and durability. 
  1. Exploring Hydrogen Storage (HS) as an energy carrier, BG&E can design facilities with storage tanks, pipelines, and infrastructure for high-pressure or cryogenic storage. 

Trading in tomorrow 

BG&E is helping drive the evolution of the renewable energy market. From the design of new projects and adaptive reuse of existing energy assets to the development of energy storage solutions, unmatched expertise and support extend to the generation, transmission, and storage of sustainable energy sources. 

Get in touch with our team to discover how we can contribute to shaping your Renewable Energy Infrastructure project.


1 PwC in collaboration with Jacobs, ‘The Future of Energy – Australia’s Energy Choice,’ Report. 2019, viewed on 12 March 2024, 

2 Schroth A, BG&E, ‘Energy Market Strategy FY23 – 25,’ Section 5.2. May 2023. 

3 Australian Government, Geoscience Australia, ‘Australian Energy Facts,’ 1 September 2023, viewed on 12 March 2024, 

4 Clean Energy Council, ‘Bioenergy,’ viewed on 12 March 2024,

5  Australian Government, Australian Trade and Investment Commission, ‘Hydrogen,’ viewed on 12 March 2024, 

6 Energy Magazine, ‘Australia’s renewables journey: moving from fossil fuels to clean energy powerhouse,’ November 18, 2020, viewed on 12 March 2024, 

7  Australian Government, Department of Climate Change, Energy, The Environment and Water, ‘Energy Data: Renewables,’ viewed on 12 March 2024, 

8  ABC News, ‘Australia ‘on track’ to generate half its electricity from renewable sources by 2025,’ 12 July 2022, viewed on 12 March 2024, 

9 Ibid., 

10 Australian PV Institute, ‘Australian PV market since April 2001,’ viewed on 12 March 2024, 

11 Australian Government, Australian Trade and Investment Commission, ‘Wind Energy,’ viewed on 12 March 2024,

12 International Renewable Energy Agency, viewed on 12 March 2024, 

13 Mission Innovation, ‘Catalysing Clean Energy Solutions For All,’ viewed on 12 March 2024, 

14 Lowy Institute Poll, 2023, Climate Change, ‘Attitude to Fossil Fuels,’ viewed on 12 March 2024, 

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Adaptive Reuse: Revitalising the Past to Create the Future | BG&E ( 

Balancing Concrete, Steel and Timber: The Future of Architecture and Structural Design | BG&E ( 

Concrete Sustainability Demystified | BG&E ( 

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