An exciting time for infrastructure?
Nation building, a return to local manufacturing and infrastructure renewal are all part of the federal election campaign chatter dominating the headlines right now.
Announcements have included the perennial building of a high-speed rail network between Sydney and Newcastle by both the incumbent Liberal-National Party and the Opposition Labor Party. It is a very old promise, a very old story and generations of politicians have failed to deliver fast rail between Australia’s state capitals or intrastate cities.
It is my firm belief that only a public-private partnership with deep public support would ever deliver fast rail in Australia. Acuity Funding would be well positioned to work with any private enterprise with an appetite for such a project, but it will take much more than a political announcement on a train station platform to make it a reality.
The re-polished announcements have, however, got me thinking about infrastructure and what a diverse and exciting market it has become. Rail networks, roads, the power grid, water infrastructure and airports are the conventional assets and projects we associate with infrastructure but it means so much more.
Broadband and electric vehicle networks and many environmental projects are also now categorised as essential infrastructure by governments globally. Private investors and entrepreneurs seeking a piece of the infrastructure pie must now be innovative, sustainable and adaptable if they wish to successfully partner with government on major infrastructure projects – and that is the case from the most developed marketplaces such as the US through to developing and emerging marketplaces in Asia and South America, for instance.
Since November 2021 US innovators have been particularly excited by that country’s adoption of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Experts have been explaining how much innovation and adaptability will be needed to deliver the various elements of that new law – $US55 billion to eliminate lead pipes from drinking water systems, $US65 billion to be spent on high-speed internet, $US110 billion on roads and bridges, $US90 billion on public transport – the list goes on.
If successful, this commitment to rebuilding America’s national infrastructure may set in motion a trend in other nations. The infrastructure world will be watching how the implementation of this ambitious program goes.
Concepts not traditionally associated with infrastructure – such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and the blockchain – are becoming essential elements in how major projects are delivered and sustained.
US experts, for example, are predicting that better data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence will be required to modernise the electricity grid, particularly as economies transition to electric vehicle fleets and more alternative energy sources come online.
Artificial intelligence is being used to improve the efficiency and reliability of traffic flow on new and existing road networks across the world. 3D printing is also revolutionizing the way major projects are delivered – data can be taken directly from a building information model and fed to robots who can manufacture structures on site without the usual supply chain impediments.
These are truly exciting times in the infrastructure marketplace and all those involved will need to be able to understand and utilise cutting-edge technologies in addition to navigating all the usual political, economic, labour force and environmental challenges that surround major projects.
With so much innovation and opportunity there’s one area you need to keep as simple and efficient as possible – project finance and financial management. That’s where Acuity Funding can help. We have a 40-year track record for bringing together high-level investors and financiers with those who need finance to deliver infrastructure and our reach is international.
If you need finance for a major infrastructure project, we have an extensive network of investors and lenders waiting to help get your vision off the ground. We also have the expertise to manage that finance so you can focus your attention on the main game.