A 4-minute pitch for the superpower vision

Wind turbines in front of a purple sky

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.


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”.)

Pitch

Climate emergency

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 the amazing progress our states and companies have made towards this vision. And this progress has brought benefits.

For example, in South Australia:

Solve price, reliability, and emissions

Renewables now generate 60% of its electricity.


Renewables have reduced expensive gas generation,


& 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,


& increased the reliability of electricity,


& 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

In 2017, an overseas investor saw the potential at Whyalla of making zero-emissions steel using renewable energy, so renewables:
(1) saved the Whyalla steelworks from closing,
(2) saved at least 1,200 jobs, and
(3) stopped Whyalla, population 22,000, from becoming a ghost town,


& opened the way for greater export of renewable energy: as the steel making uses more renewable energy, the steel exported from Whyalla will carry more renewable energy, and

  • An efficient way for Australia to export renewable energy is to refine minerals using renewable energy and export those refined minerals.
  • We are already exporting renewable energy like this, e.g., when we export (1) steel from Whyalla, where 60% of the electricity is renewable, and (2) aluminium from Tasmania, where 100% of electricity is now renewable.
  • See industrialise with renewables on this site.

& opened the way for Whyalla to become a world-scale steelworks producing zero-emissions steel: sustainable industry with a long-term future.

Our renewable energy is already revitalising our manufacturing sector.


Unfortunately, the Guardian reports that the UK Serious Fraud Office is investigating the Gupta Family Group.

Regardless, green steel still has great potential, and other companies are pursuing this. For example, Fortescue plans to set up a green hydrogen industry and a green steel industry in Western Australia.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of ores that need energy-intensive processing. Now, our cheap renewable energy will allow us to refine more of these minerals here.


Wide support for vast renewable expansion

Renewables have broad support, including from the state Liberals.


The state Liberals are planning a massive expansion of renewable generation to five times their current electricity usage.


They’re also planning for green hydrogen production and export, a new industry for the state.


Like South Australia, all the other Liberal state governments, NSW and Tasmania, also have ambitious plans for renewables.

These plans leave the Federal Coalition’s continuing attacks on renewable energy looking increasingly bizarre.


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.

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.)

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.


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 our renewable energy and mineral resources, e.g., developing green industries around steel, aluminium, zinc, and manganese.

See Cheap renewable energy is leading to more mineral processing in Australia on this site.


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.


References

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.


Driver: The renewables revolution

One driver is that we are in the middle of a revolution in renewable energy:

  • 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, and
  • wind and solar generation, with battery storage, now provide the cheapest electricity.

See: The renewable energy revolution


Driver: Australia’s competitive advantages

Map: Global distribution of combined wind and solar generation potential

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.

See: Australia’s competitive advantages in the renewables’ era


Driver: 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.

(The Million Jobs Plan: Beyond Zero Emissions: 2020)


Driver: Security: Low fossil fuel reserves

Firstly, Australia holds low reserves of petrol, diesel, and jet fuel. A 23-day disruption could see us run out of these fuels. So, it is in our national interest to move to electric and hydrogen fuels, to reduce the vulnerability of our road transport, rail transport, electricity generation, and even farm tractor usage.

(Australia urged to move away from oil dependency or risk fuel supply crisis: The Guardian: 17 July 2019)


Driver: 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)


Driver: International pressure

Japan, South Korea, and China have set net zero-emission targets. As they decrease their use of our fossil fuels, to meet their targets, 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.

Driver: Slash $41 billion fossil fuel import cost

By moving to renewable energy, Australia can substantially reduce the enormous costs of importing fossil fuels; the cost was $41 billion in 2014. (See the Superpower Report by Beyond Zero Emissions, page 58)


Driver: 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:



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Source: Map of wind and solar potential: Beyond Zero Emissions: Renewable Energy Superpower Report


Updated 13 july 2021