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Australia, a world-leading renewable energy superpower? The experts weigh in.

31 Oct 2021

Keywords

Australia has everything we need to become a renewable energy export superpower: endless sunshine, powerful winds, abundant space, strong trade relationships and world-class expertise and training institutions.


A recent report co-commissioned by WWF-Australia showed that a switch away from our current fossil fuel exports and towards renewable energy alternatives could generate almost 400,000 jobs and boost Australia’s economy by a massive $89 billion by 2040.


But with the world quickly transitioning to cleaner and greener energy, Australia risks being left behind if we don’t act fast to capitalise on our natural advantages.


Don’t just take our word for it, though.


In the recently-released Renewable Superpower Survey, EY, on behalf of WWF-Australia, asked more than 50 leading experts from investment and insurance companies, think tanks, academia and NGOs to share their thoughts on Australia’s potential for a renewable energy future. 


Here’s what they had to say:


Australia CAN become a world-leading renewable export superpower


With phrases like “tremendous natural advantage” and “envy of the world” being thrown about, it’s clear the experts believe in this opportunity. In fact, 96% of them believe Australia has all the necessary resources to become a world-leading renewable and clean manufacturing exporter. 


Our nation’s minds were identified as our key export within the next five years, with the largest number of respondents agreeing that Aussie expertise was the most promising export for the immediate future. Looking further ahead, renewable hydrogen (see Queensland’s recent exciting announcement on this - go Gladstone!) and renewable manufacturing are seen as our best export options over the medium to long term (up to 2040).


The experts agree: Australia does have the resources necessary to power the nation, with enough left over to sell to the world.


700% renewables by 2050 is achievable


You might have heard that WWF is calling for Australia to be powered by 700% renewable energy by 2050. What does that mean? 


Firstly, all of Australia’s energy needs would be powered from renewable energy sources, both on and off the grid. From the lights in our home and workplaces to electric buses and trucks on our roads, all Australian electricity sources and Australian-made products would be created using renewable resources.


It also means that by selling our extra renewable energy to the world we could simultaneously grow our own economy as well as help other countries reduce their footprint by decarbonising their systems through the use of Australian technology.


Sounds great, right? Well the majority of experts surveyed, 70% in fact, believe that this 700% target is completely doable by 2050 with the right policy and government support. 


Renewable energy exports will grow Australian businesses


Obviously transitioning towards renewable energy would lower emissions and positively impact the environment, but what about business benefits? 80% of experts and leaders surveyed felt there are significant growth opportunities for their businesses and business in general through renewable energy exports.


What’s more is 66% of respondents said their organisation was already pursuing or exploring renewable energy export options, which proves that Aussie businesses are just as excited about this opportunity as we are.


Enough talk, more policy


While all of this sounds amazing, the majority of the experts surveyed felt Australia currently lacked the Government focus and support needed to unlock Australia’s clean manufacturing potential by 2030.


81% felt we don’t yet have clear enough federal policy direction to encourage this transition, while 66% said Australia lacks enough Federal support to foster innovation in the right areas.


That’s why we’re calling on the Government to develop clear policy, invest in new industries and deliver a fair transition for workers and communities to ensure everyone benefits from the renewables race.


Australia can become a world leader, but we need to act now


Throughout the survey experts and leaders warn that, while Australia certainly has the resources, a lack of swift action could mean this incredibly lucrative opportunity is seized by other countries, namely those who get their act together faster.


Half of survey respondents acknowledged that state and territory governments were leading the way in propelling clean manufacturing export opportunities, but noted that a lack of coordination nationally weakened the capacity to unlock our renewable energy capital.


Developing national policy direction was highlighted by experts as critical to accelerating our opportunities, and we agree. We may have the natural advantage, but without a national focus on growing the relevant skills, capabilities and industries, we could lose out big time. 


Experts and leaders have weighed in: Australia can become a renewable energy export superpower, but we need Government support to do so.

The global race for renewables is on, and we cannot afford to be left behind. 


Find out more here.

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