An Interview with… Clare Hobson
Clare Hobson, environmental scientist, talks energy transition.
Read the interview below.
Role: Environmental Scientist
Years in oil and gas: 4
Years at Xodus: 2
What have you seen change in the last 12 – 24 months in the industry?
I’ve definitely seen a shift to larger-scale renewable projects in the last 12 months, rather than just small solar/wind farms. There is a lot of interest in green hydrogen, and we have been lucky enough to work on the environmental approvals for one of the largest proposed green hydrogen projects in the world.
How has this changed the work you do?
With the green hydrogen development, we see that there are generally less operational impacts to manage – e.g. emissions and discharges. However, construction impacts from vegetation clearing, heritage, visual amenity, and water use still need to be considered, regardless of the type of project. Studies still need to be undertaken to identify environmental values and to support approvals, and stakeholder consultation undertaken. Overall, we see that although renewable projects will have a net benefit in terms of reducing GHG emissions/reaching net zero; as consultants we still need to assess the environmental impacts and identify mitigations to minimise these environmental impacts.
So the work I do hasn’t really changed too much!
Why do you think you have been able to transfer your skills to new energy?
Because I have had such a varied career. I have been lucky enough to work across a range of industries in all different locations. I spent time working in the northern territories for the Department of Defence. I have worked in both mining and construction across WA. I also gained experience with the regulator, having worked for the WA Department of Water, Environment and Regulation. This role in particular gave me a good insight into the expectations of state approvals.
This experience has really reinforced that the principles of environmental impact assessment are the same, no matter the energy source or project type. We follow a process to identify our impacts, understand how we mitigate those and define ways in which we implement those mitigations. This process is then adapted to allow us to deal with different regulatory regimes and projects in different environments. I am excited to now be doing this for new renewable energy projects.
What type of project would you like to be involved with next?
I would love to work on another green hydrogen project, I think that would be great.