Australia can become a renewable energy superpower.

A fantastic opportunity.

Australia can become a renewable energy superpower by responding fully and rapidly to the climate emergency.

This transformation offers Australia a more prosperous and secure future. We need to act now, to catch this wave of change. If we delay we could miss it.

Our competitive advantages

Australia can become a renewable energy superpower because 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

Map: The global distribution of “combined wind and solar generation potential”, based on NASA global wind and solar data.

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

Australia stands out, glowing in orange-brown. We have exceptionally high potential – and we are an industrialised nation.

Most of Europe, northern Asia, and North America is a low potential blue.

Also see Australia’s strong sun.

We can grasp this opportunity by:

  • taking advantage of our exceptional renewable energy resources,
  • rapidly expanding renewable energy production,
  • exporting renewable energy, and
  • attracting new energy-intensive industries.

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.

The benefits of acting now

Australia can grasp this opportunity now by responding fully and rapidly to the climate emergency. If we act now, we can have:

  • cheap electricity,
  • reliable electricity,
  • reduced emissions,
  • more jobs, and
  • a more prosperous and secure future.

Beyond Zero Emissions Plans

This is detailed in The Renewable Energy Superpower Report (2015), by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).

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.

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 systems. 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.

Attracting energy intensive, trade exposed industries

Energy intensive industries 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, even with a Coalition government that is devoted to coal and vilifies renewables.

In 2017 Sanjeev Gupta acquired the failing Arrium steel and mining business in Whyalla, South Australia. While former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the carbon tax would kill the steelworks, Gupta plans to power the steelworks with renewable electricity and to expand the steelworks into a world-scale plant. (ABC News: 10 December 2018)

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 has 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.)

Hard-nosed economic sense

The above actions of private industry strongly suggest that it is hard-nosed economic sense for Australia to export renewable energy and power industry with renewalbes.


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

Electricity will power more 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, it risks a large trade deficit.

Fossil fuel imports into Australia in 2014 cost $ 41 billion. Currently, 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 could face a rapidly growing fossil fuel, trade deficit.


A prosperous future for Australia

By making this transition to clean energy, Australia can develop the ongoing advantage of abundant, internationally low-priced energy. This would provide a solid basis for our future economy.


Security: Beware the green dragon not the red one

The British empire was built on coal. The American empire was built on oil. Why are the US (and Australia on its coat-tails) allowing China to dominate renewables: this century’s energy resources.


References

Renewable Energy Superpower Report
Beyond Zero Emissions 2015

How Australia can become a renewable energy superpower
Renew Economy 2015


Updated 17 March 2019

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