Australia: A renewable energy superpower.

Here is a strong economic argument for Australia rapidly expanding its renewable energy generation.

Australia stands out, glowing orange on this world map of “wind and solar generation potential”. It shows that we have abundant, top-quality renewable energy.

Building on this, Australia can become a renewable energy superpower by:

  • rapidly expanding renewable energy generation,
  • exporting renewable energy into Asia,
  • attracting new energy-intensive industries, and
  • supplying renewable energy equipment and solutions.

The global transition to renewables is happening and it offers us a great opportunity to grasp a prosperous future, with secure jobs and cheap, reliable electricity.

Private industry is already moving in this direction. This future is not a fantasy.

If we pursue this vision with vigour, the revolution will be economically beneficial to Australia. And we will reduce our carbon emissions. And our renewable energy exports will enable other nations to reduce their emissions.


Presenting this positive vision of Australia’s future.

Especially when others suggest that the transition will damage our economy we can reply:

The rapid expansion of renewables and reduction of our carbon emissions has the potential to lead to a boom in the Australian economy. We can become a renewable energy superpower and export renewables into Asia. Private industry in Australia is already moving in this direction.


Our competitive advantages

Australia can become a renewable energy superpower as we have competitive advantages:

  • abundant quality solar and wind resources,
  • a very widespread electric grid,
  • vast areas of suitable land,
  • a skilled workforce and industry sector,
  • capable research organisations,
  • closeness to growing Asian markets like Indonesia, China, India, and Japan,
  • abundant mineral resources, and
  • a secure stable society.

Australia has exceptional renewable energy resources

This map shows the global distribution of “combined wind and solar generation potential”, based on NASA global wind and solar data.

  • The highest potential is red then orange
  • The lowest potentials are blue and white.
  • Developed nations have no stripes.

Note that:

  • Australia stands out, a large area glowing in orange. We have exceptionally high-potential – and we are an industrialised nation.
  • Most of Europe, northern Asia, and North America is a low potential blue.

One factor behind Australia’s exceptional renewable energy potential is that Australia gets stronger sun than most developed countries.


Renewable energy superpowers

The world is transitioning from the “fossil energy era” to the “renewable energy era”. Nations that have competitive advantages, and take this opportunity to invest in renewable energy, will become the global industrial powerhouses of the future: renewable energy superpowers.


Plans by ‘Beyond Zero Emissions”

The Renewable Energy Superpower Report (2015) fully details this vision for a prosperous Australia. It is a research report by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE). You can download this free report as a 100-page pdf file.

To become a renewable energy superpower, Australia needs to act on this report and on the other BZE plans detailing how Australia can rapidly move to zero emissions.


There are three major opportunities.

(1) Supplying equipment and solutions

The demand for “renewable energy equipment” and “energy efficiency solutions” will grow rapidly, over the next 20 years, as the world replaces polluting energy. This opportunity will peak during the transition period and then decline. To benefit from this energy transition, we need to catch this wave of change now.

Private industry is already moving in this direction, here are three examples:

(2) Attracting energy intensive, trade exposed industries

Industries that use a lot of energy will tend to migrate to the places offering the lowest cost of operation, and places with quality renewable energy sources will have an ongoing advantage.

Private industry is already moving in this direction.

In 2017 Sanjeev Gupta acquired the failing Arrium steel and mining business in Whyalla, South Australia. He plans to power the steelworks with renewable electricity and to expand the steelworks into a world-scale plant. (ABC News: 10 December 2018)

(3) Exporting renewable energy

The production and export of renewable energy commodities, such as hydrogen and electricity will play a significant role in the renewable energy future.

Again, private industry is already moving in this direction. For example, in 2017 an international consortium of energy companies proposed the Asian Renewable Energy Hub. This is a proposed giant wind and solar power plant in northern Western Australia that would export electricity to Indonesia via sub-sea high voltage transmission cables.
Asian Renewable Energy Hub’s $13b plan for Pilbara’s sun and wind to power South-East Asia: The West Australian 30 Nov 2017.

There is a large use of diesel in Australia and Asia: Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan. The opportunity is for Australia to satisfy this market by supplying renewable hydrogen or ammonia.  We have the technology to do it. What we need is to reduce costs by increasing the scale of production.
Bold thinking needed to dig Australia our of self-inflicted energy import export dilemma: Renew economy: 3 April 2019

Hard-nosed economic sense

The above actions of private industry suggest that it is hard-nosed economic sense for Australia to harvest its renewable energy and foster its renewable energy businesses. With government support, these initiatives could provide far more jobs and security for Australia.


Cheap electricity will become more important as the use of electricity expands

Electricity will increasingly power industrial processes and transport. This will make international differences in power prices more important. It will favour countries that have and use quality renewable energy sources.


If Australia delays the transition, we risk a trade deficit

If Australia continues to delay moving to renewables, we risk a large trade deficit.

  • Fossil fuel imports into Australia in 2014 cost $ 41 billion.
  • Our coal and gas exports offset this cost.
  • However, Australia’s fossil energy exports will decline, as the world moves away from fossil fuels.
  • If coal exports take a dive, while Australia maintains its reliance on imported fossil fuels like petrol, then we face a rapidly growing fossil fuel, trade deficit.

Security

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?
(Security: Beware the green dragon not the red one
Crispin Hull: March 2018)

We should strive to become a renewable energy superpower, in the interests of Australian security.


Narrow window of opportunity

There is a narrow window of opportunity as we have other nations will want to supply this renewable energy, e.g. the Gulf petro-states.


A prosperous future for Australia

The global energy transition may become the single biggest wealth-generating opportunity ever. And Australia is well placed to benefit big-time as we have outstanding renewable energy resources and more.

Australia can become a renewable energy superpower. We can have secure long term jobs and exports based on our ongoing advantage of abundant, internationally low-priced energy. This would provide a solid basis for our economy. And we would be acting to limit the looming chaos and costs of climate change.

Private industry is already moving in this direction. This demonstrates that this transformation is gathering power and that this is a path of responsible economic management.

The Australian economy can thrive on the renewables revolution.

Australia can be a superpower of the post-carbon world
Professor Ross Garnaut: The Age: 15 May 2019


The dominance of fossil fuel myths

For years, interviews and the ABC program Q&A seem to have been dominated by the myths of fossil fuel advocates. These views have not been effectively rebutted.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale was on Q&A (13 May) and 7:30 Report (7 May) and he did not convey that the renewables revolution could be a boon for Australia.

Leigh Sales asked Di Natale “Will rapid cutting of emissions force Australia into recession”. He started answering by arguing that we must act rapidly as there are looming environmental disasters, e.g. the recent forecast of a million extinctions. This is describing his motivation, but it is not directly answering the economic question, and listeners not motivated by environmental protection tune out. He did briefly state some of the jigsaw pieces of the argument for Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower, e.g. the creation of new jobs and hydrogen export. However, he did not put the pieces together by asserting that strong rapid climate action has the potential to push Australia into greater prosperity and security. He made no mention of the opportunity for Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower.

The interviewer’s question itself planted a fear that a slow transition would lead to a recession and the Senator needed a stronger argument against this.

So, not one of the large political parties is presenting a rapid transition as a great opportunity, one that could see Australia become a renewable energy superpower. Not even the Greens!


The strengths of this argument

This vision offers:

  • A booming Australian economy, which counters suggestions that even modest emission reduction targets will be foolishly expensive, harm the economy or destroy jobs.
  • A rapid transition, so that Australia gets to build these renewable energy generators. If we wait others will build it.
  • A more prosperous and secure Australia.
  • Reliable and internationally low-priced energy.
  • Expansion of manufacturing and minerals processing.
  • Secure long-term jobs in the post-carbon economy.
  • Renewable energy exports on a very large scale.
  • Reduction of Australian emissions.
  • Reduction of emissions in nations which import our renewables.
  • Australian participation in global efforts to limit climate change.
  • An optimistic, tempting future. It is effective to argue for future like Australia becoming a superpower, rather than to argue for sacrifice to avoid damage to the environment. Especially when the sacrifice is to be by powerful people and organisations. They will go cold turkey on their fossil fuel addiction when fossil fuel developments like Adani stop and they lose income. Addicts cling to their addictions.
  • An attractive future for people who are mainly focussed on the economy and jobs, e.g. many Liberal Party supporters.
  • A way forward that benefits both the environment and the economy. As such, it could lead to more agreement over climate action and a reduction of the policy reversals that go with the climate policy wars.
  • A way of avoiding a large “fossil fuel trade deficit” as our exports of fossil fuel decrease.
  • An argument that can be put in 45 words.
  • An economic answer to economic questions.
  • A way of turning a discussion around from “defending moderate climate action” to “promoting rapid action”.
  • A proposal supported by research, as detailed in “The Renewable Energy Superpower Report (2015)”.

One strand of the argument

This economic argument for a rapid transition is only one strand of the full argument for climate action. Other strands would include:

  • The economic costs of inaction,
  • Limiting damage to the environment and maintaining the web of life, and
  • The health benefits of the renewables transition

If we are serious about tackling the climate crisis, then we need to use all persuasive arguments, including the argument that Australia can benefit from a rapid transformation and even become a renewable energy superpower.


Promoting this vision

Map: Global distribution of combined wind and solar generation potential

You can promote this vision for a prosperous Australia by:

  • Discussing these views. (Talking about the map of “wind and solar generation potential” may help this. You can paste the map into a word-processing document and then print it. Note, the map is from the BZE report so you need to respect copyright.)
  • Emailing this vision to several people. (Below, there is a section of text that you could copy into an email)
  • Promoting this web page, say by sharing this web page using the social sharing buttons below.
  • Promoting the BZE website and the BZE report
  • On Twitter, using the hashtag #OzRenewablesSuperpower
  • On Twitter, searching for #OzRenewablesSuperpower and retweeting.

Free BZE report download

Renewable Energy Superpower Report
Beyond Zero Emissions: 2015 (a 100-page pdf file)


Consider emailing the following to some people

Please consider emailing the following to a few people. (You can simply paste this into an email and then edit it as you want. My email program accepts the image of the map, but some software does not. The map is a small image of 73 kb.)

*** Start copying here.

Email title: The rapid transition to renewables is a once in a lifetime economic opportunity for Australia.

Hello,

I saw some information that might interest you. It’s from the website www.feedbackreigns.net. You might like to forward it to others too. Here it is:

A vision of a prosperous Australia

“A top-speed reduction in carbon emissions has the potential to lead to a boom in the Australian economy. We can expand renewable generation, export renewables into Asia – and Australia can become a renewable energy superpower. Private industry in Australia is already moving in this direction.”

This is a vision worth pursuing with vigour. The rapid transition to renewables is a great economic opportunity for Australia.

Presenting this vision in the words used above could also be an effective response when confronted by loaded questions like, “Will the proposed reduction in carbon emissions push Australia into recession?” It provides a succinct economic counter to loaded economic questions like this.

One independent climate candidate wrote back to me saying: “Thanks for arming me for the good fight”.

This vision needs promoting

It seems that Professor Ross Garnaut is about the only person putting this vision. In two recent media appearances, even the Greens leader, Senator Di Natale, did not clearly argue that the renewables revolution could be a boon for Australia. It’s no wonder that shows like the ABC Q&A, are often dominated by the myths of coal supporters.

So in a little more detail, what is this economic argument.

Austalia has top-class wind and solar potential

Map: Global distribution of combined wind and solar generation potential

Australia stands out, glowing orange on the world map of “wind and solar generation potential”. It shows that we have abundant, top-quality renewable energy.

Australia can become a renewable energy superpower

Australia can harvest this energy and become a renewable energy superpower by:
. rapidly expanding renewable energy generation,
. exporting renewable energy into Asia,
. attracting new energy-intensive industries, and
. supplying renewable energy equipment and solutions.

The global transition to renewables is happening and it offers Australia a great opportunity to grasp a prosperous future, with secure jobs and cheap, reliable electricity.

Private industry is already moving in this direction.

For example, in 2017 Sanjeev Gupta acquired the failing Arrium steel and mining business in Whyalla, South Australia. He plans to power the steelworks with renewable electricity and to expand the steelworks into a world-scale plant. (ABC News: 10 December 2018)

For more details

For more on this, including more about the green shoots of this energy revolution, see:
https://www.feedbackreigns.net/solutions/australia-a-renewable-energy-superpower/

For the full details, see “The Renewable Energy Superpower Report” (2015), a free 100-page report by Beyond Zero Emissions. The above map comes from this report.
https://bze.org.au/research/renewable-energy-superpower/

Please consider promoting this vision

Please consider promoting this vision of Australia’s future, say by forwarding this email to others.

Andrew Gunner
www.feedbackreigns.net

*** End copying here.


Updated 20 May 2019