Transition to Renewable Energy and Indigenous People in Northern Australia: Enhancing or Inhibiting Capabilities?




Hunt, Janet
Riley, Brad
O'Neill, Lily
Maynard, Ganur

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Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group


This paper uses the capability approach to analyse renewable energy developments on Aboriginal land in Australia’s Pilbara and Kimberley regions. These regions in the north-west of Australia have very high rates of Indigenous land tenure, and are attractive for both solar and wind power generation, particularly as developing technology makes it economically feasible to transport power over large distances. They are also remote from Australia’s electricity networks and often rely on expensive fossil fuels for electricity generation. Resident Aboriginal communities are among the most income-poor in Australia yet live in regions rich in renewable energy. Their ability to benefit from the opportunities offered by a transition to renewable sources of energy varies according to a number of factors. This paper examines the conditions under which Indigenous capabilities may be enhanced or inhibited, through examining three scales of energy generation: large-scale developments for export; remote utility-owned networks; and small-scale standalone off-grid applications. This paper will ask what capabilities can Indigenous people achieve from a just approach to a renewable energy transition in northern Australia, and what capabilities are required in order to gain maximum benefit from this current rapid energy transition?.



Renewable energy, Native title, Indigenous estate, Capability approach, Indigenous rights


J. Hunt, B. Riley, L. O’Neill & G. Maynard (2021) Transition to Renewable Energy and Indigenous People in Northern Australia: Enhancing or Inhibiting Capabilities?, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 22:2, 360-378, DOI: 10.1080/19452829.2021.1901670


Journal of Human Development and Capabilities


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