Australia can become a renewable energy superpower.
We have made some amazing progress towards this “superpower vision”, and this progress is the foundation of my four-minute pitch for the vision. It includes several half-minute pitches that could stand alone.
- Australia can become a renewable energy superpower.
- The 4-minute Pitch for the superpower vision
- What’s your pitch for a sustainable Australia
- More progress towards the superpower vision
- Drivers of Australia’s transformation
- Urgent climate action needed
- Related pages
- Consider sharing on social media
The 4-minute Pitch for the superpower vision
(The pitch is on a blue background. Use the below “pitch button” to toggle between seeing the “pitch and evidence” and “only the pitch”.)
We face a climate emergency and need to act now to protect ourselves, our children, and our environment.
See the evidence page on this site.
Renewable energy superpower vision
Fortunately, by acting now, we can also grasp a prosperous future with sustainable industries and jobs.
Powered by our cheap renewable energy, Australia can radically expand its industrial base, for example, steel production, and become a renewable energy exporting superpower.
However, if we are slow, others will grab this opportunity.
This superpower vision is realistic; look at our states and companies’ amazing progress towards this vision. And this progress has brought benefits.
For example, in South Australia:
Solve price, reliability, and emissions
Renewables now generate 60% of their electricity.
- (South Australia reaches a world-leading 60% share of wind and solar over the year up to 7 Feb 2021: Renew Economy: 8 Feb 2021)
- This is progress towards the superpower vision.
Renewables have reduced expensive gas generation,
- South Australia has had high electricity costs because gas has become expensive.
- (South Australia had the lowest cost of supply in the east coast grid in October 2019: Renew Economy: 1 Nov 2019)
& reduced the state’s wholesale electricity prices: the state did have the highest prices on the east coast grid for years, but now it often has the lowest,
- (Renewables dominated South Australia delivering cheaper power than in Victoria and NSW: Renew Economy: 13 July 2020)
- This is a benefit of the move to renewables.
& increased the reliability of electricity,
- With grid-scale batteries, the whole east coast grid now copes better with crises. This is a benefit of the move to renewables.
- (Wind and batteries saved the day when a storm cut south Australia adrift: Renew Economy: 14 Feb 2020)
- (Batteries and renewables will outmatch coal and gas for reliable and cheap power: Renew Economy: 29 March 2021)
& cut emissions.
So, renewables are making Australian industries more competitive.
- This is a benefit of the move to renewables.
- After 66 seconds, you’ve already got a pitch that could stand alone.
Industrialise with renewables
When Australia exports refined minerals, it also exports the energy used in the refining, the embodied energy. Australia is already exporting renewable energy in this way. This export is growing and could become enormous.
Exporting green aluminium and renewable energy
We already export renewable energy from our four aluminium smelters, e.g., the Bell Bay aluminium smelter:
(1) uses Tasmania’s 100% renewable electricity to make aluminium,
(2) exports aluminium, and so
(3) exports the electricity used to make this exported aluminium, that’s 20% of the states’ generation, and
(4) employs 440 people, that’s good for employment and the Launceston region.
- Bell Bay uses 25% of Tasmania’s electricity, employs 440 people. (Bell Bay power talks underway: The Examiner)
- 80% of Bell Bay aluminium is exported (Bell Bay Aluminium)
- Bell Bay exports 20% of Tasmania’s electricity ( 80% of 25% = 20%).
- The Australian Aluminium Council: Industry information
- A pitch focussing on the NSW Tomago aluminium smelter: On this site.
Exporting green steel and renewable energy
The Grattan Institute reports that Australia could refine more of our iron ore and create 25,000 manufacturing jobs in the coal mining areas of Queensland and NSW. Several companies are pursuing green steel:
(1) the existing Whyalla Steelworks in South Australia, and
(2) Fortescue has announced plans for green hydrogen and green steel in Western Australia.
- (Green Steel is hailed as the next big thing in Australia: The Conversation: 2 June 2021)
- (Want more jobs in Australia: Cut our ore exports and make more metals at home: The Conversation: 8 Nov 2019)
- (Forrest unveils Fortescue’s green steel plans: Australian Mining: 22 Jan 2021)
- After 1-min 40-sec, you’ve also included benefits to jobs, community, industry, and energy export.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of ores that need energy-intensive processing. Now, our cheap renewable energy will make it economical to refine more of these minerals here.
- Ross Garnaut’s book “Superpower”, pages 69-70.
Our export of embodied renewable energy will increase as we (1) move towards 100% renewable energy and (2) export more refined minerals.
Australia is industrialising based on renewable energy and moving towards being a renewable energy superpower.
Wide support for vast renewable expansion
Renewables have broad support, including from the state Liberals.
- The Liberal state Premier Marshall sees the benefits of this transition, saying:
- the 2019/20 fires have changed the psyche of the people of Australia, and
- recent technology creates enormous opportunities for South Australia to:
- improve grid stability,
- lower prices, and
- cut emissions.
- (South Australia to accelerate the transition and emissions cuts after bush fires: Renew Economy: 31 Jan 2020)
The State Liberals are planning a massive expansion of renewable generation to five times their current electricity usage.
- The state is on track to meet its renewable energy target of 100% by 2030 and is targetting 500% by 2050. This is stunning progress towards the superpower vision.
- (South Australia targets 500% renewables in a new climate plan: Renew Economy: 16 Dec 2020)
They’re also planning for green hydrogen production and export, a new industry for the state.
- These ambitious government plans are “progress towards the superpower vision”.
- (South Australia names hydrogen hubs to foster epic growth in wind and solar: Renew Economy: 29 Oct 2020)
- (South Australia backs a $250 million green hydrogen project to kick start exports of hydrogen and ammonia: Renew Economy: 5 Nov 2020)
Like South Australia, all the other Liberal state governments, NSW and Tasmania, also have ambitious plans for renewables.
- (Australian states and territories are powering into renewable energy: This site)
- (2020 was a landmark year for renewables in Australia: The Guardian: Holmes a Court: 2 Jan 2021)
These plans leave the Federal Coalition’s continuing attacks on renewable energy looking increasingly bizarre.
- The Federal resources minister, Keith Pitt, blocked funding for a large wind farm and battery based on his strange assertion that it would not provide dispatchable electricity.
- (Batteries not included: The Coalitions stunning hatred of new technology: Renew Economy: 11 May 2021)
Vast commercial export plans
We also see gargantuan commercial plans to export renewable energy.
The Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Western Australia plans to generate 100 Terawatt hours a year. That’s about 68% of Australia’s coal generation in 2019, and more than China’s Three Gorges Dam, which is the second-largest generator in the world.
- The Asian Renewable Energy Hub
- The largest hydrogen project globally is the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in the Pilbara, WA, with wind power of 16 GW and solar power of 10 GW. This 26 GW of renewables will power the hydrogen-producing electrolyser of 14GW.
The Australian company, Sun Cable, plans to supply 20% of Singapore’s electricity from the Northern Territory via a submarine cable.
- (The world’s biggest solar and battery project lands a planning deal with the Northern Territory government: Renew Economy: 29 Jan 2021)
- (The Sun Cable website)
- ((Sun Cable submits plans for a gigawatt-scale solar manufacturing plant in Darwin: Renew Economy: 31 March 2021)
These are two of over 30 plans for green hydrogen or ammonia.
- Fortescue plans global renewable generation on a scale to match major oil companies’ energy production: 235 GW, five times the current capacity of our east coast grid. (Fortescue leads a stampede into green energy with stunning plans for 235 GW of wind and solar generation: Renew Economy: 12 Nov 2020)
- For comparison, Australia’s most powerful coal generator is Eraring in NSW at 2.9 GW, and total Australian coal generator power is 25 GW. (Note: 1 GW of coal power usually generates more energy than 1 GW of intermittent renewables, e.g., a wind turbine only generates when the wind blows.)
- Five Australian projects are in the world’s 13 largest green hydrogen projects (Recharge News: 21 Dec 2020).
- The four other large Australian hydrogen projects have electrolyser powers from 1.5 to 5 GW, and there are many other smaller projects.
- These ambitious commercial plans are “progress” towards the superpower vision.
A green-energy gold rush
The above developments have come in surges, making it seem like the start of a green-energy gold rush, with Australia pushing towards being a renewable energy superpower, despite the Federal Coalition.
Our progress indicates that the superpower vision is realistic, and the benefits show it would be good for jobs, security, and prosperity.
We need to urgently push ahead with this transition before other nations grasp these opportunities.
- Oman, on the Arabian Peninsula, is one clear competitor for these hydrogen opportunities.
- (Oman to host 25GW of wind, solar, and green hydrogen mega-project: Renew Economy: 19 May 2021)
- Well, that’s it, the 4-minute pitch.
What’s your pitch for a sustainable Australia
What’s your vision for a sustainable Australia and a pitch that you could use in a lunchtime discussion or radio interview?
There’s also a 3-minute pitch on the home page, without the links to articles.
These pitches for the vision emphasise our progress and the resulting benefits. This is because vision, progress and benefits can form a self-amplifying cycle, with progress leading to more progress. See the advantages of promoting climate action by focussing on vision and progress.
And, there’s plenty more progress that you could weave into a pitch.
More progress towards the superpower vision
See more of our progress on the pages under “progress” in the menu.
Our States and Territories already rely substantially on renewable energy and have ambitious plans to expand renewables.
See Australian states and territories are powering into renewable energy on this site.
Companies are moving to renewable energy and batteries to cut costs, e.g. remote mines with microgrids are generating 50% of their electricity from renewables.
See Big companies are buying or generating renewable energy on this site.
Australia is industrialising based on renewable energy and mineral resources, e.g., developing green industries around steel, aluminium, zinc, and manganese.
Australia could generate seven times as much renewable energy as we consume and export the surplus. One way in which we are already exporting renewable energy is via our export of aluminium, steel, and zinc.
See The export of renewable energy from Australia on this site.
As the world moves towards renewable energy, Australian enterprises are finding global niches, providing equipment and solutions, e.g., exporting electric vehicle chargers.
See Australia is supplying equipment and solutions on this site.
Australia has made some progress towards renewable transport.
See several brief pitches for renewable transport on this site.
Beyond Zero Emissions (2015) Zero Carbon Australia: Renewable Energy Superpower
Ross Garnaut (2019) Super-Power: Australia’s low-carbon opportunity: La Trobe University Press
Drivers of Australia’s transformation
There are many drivers of Australia’s transformation into a renewable energy superpower.
The renewables disruption
One driver is that we are in the midst of a renewable energy disruption. Renewables are replacing fossil fuels, just like the motor car replaced the horse and buggy:
- wind and solar generation, with battery storage, now provide the cheapest electricity, and
- the Tesla battery at Hornsdale in South Australia showed the world that big batteries could perform critical roles in running a grid, and now there are over 40 big batteries completed or planned in Australia.
Australia has competitive advantages
Australia glows orange on this map because we have outstanding winds and sun. Another driver of the transformation is that Australia has outstanding energy and mineral resources and will benefit from the renewable energy revolution.
The transition is creating quality jobs
- Building renewable infrastructure is creating jobs for engineers and construction workers.
- Our emerging industries are creating enduring jobs for salespeople, production planners, and plant operators.
Accelerating the superpower transition would be a sound economic investment and economic stimulus.
Security: Energy brings political power
Control of energy resources brings political power. The British built their empire on coal. The Americans built their empire on oil. Why are the democracies leaving the Chinese to build an empire on renewable energy, the energy of this century? We should strive to become a renewable energy superpower in the interests of Australian security.
(China: Beware the green dragon not the red one, Crispin Hull: March 2018)
Japan, South Korea, and China have set net zero-emission targets. As they move towards these targets, decreasing their use of our fossil fuels, they will be interested in buying our renewable energy.
(Net-zero: What if Australia misses the moment on climate action: The Guardian: 31 Oct 2020)
International pressure is building on Australia from:
- the United Nations,
- Pacific islands nations,
- the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom, and
- US President Biden is making climate action a priority.
Australia is benefiting from the transition
Some suggest that the transition to renewables will damage our economy, but the opposite is true.
The global energy transition is underway. It’s an enormous global wealth-generating opportunity, driven by the plummeting costs of renewable energy. The transition will:
- lead to a stronger Australian economy as we export renewable energy and become a renewable energy superpower,
- reduce our carbon emissions,
- assist other nations to reduce their emissions, and
- slow global warming and so reduce the costs of climate damage.
It’s in Australia’s economic interest to make this transition.
We can combat climate change, and at the same time, build a stronger economy & society.
Urgent climate action needed
Even though Australia is making great strides towards becoming a renewable energy superpower, we still need to do everything we can to accelerate this transition: other nations can seize these opportunities, and climate change is already wreaking havoc, see:
- Organise a presentation on Australia’s progress towards the superpower vision
- A brainstorm of banner slogans for climate marches
- Advantages of promoting climate action by focussing on vision and progress
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Source: Map of wind and solar potential: Beyond Zero Emissions: Renewable Energy Superpower Report
Updated 5 August 2021