Wednesday 7 September 2022
Media Release: Act now to create a renewable export industry
Australia could create 395,000 new jobs and generate $89 billion in new trade by 2040 through investment in renewable energy exports. This is greater than the economic value and jobs in today’s fossil fuel exports.
Today leaders of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Business Council of Australia and WWF-Australia, meeting at the Better Futures Forum welcomed the Australian government’s continued commitment to a renewable export future for Australia.
Speaking at the Forum’s breakfast event, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen reaffirmed the Australian government’s ambition to ensuring we become a renewable export powerhouse.
“The dividends for our country could be enormous. Now we ‘ve got to get on with it. Build the renewables, build the transmission, build the storage - and then build it more so we can export it to the world.”
The ‘Sunshot: Australia’s Opportunity to Create 395,000 Clean Export Jobs’ report, released last October, outlined a future in which:
- renewable hydrogen and ammonia will provide 33,000 direct and indirect jobs, generating some $28.9 billion in revenue.
- critical minerals will provide 110,000 direct and indirect jobs, generating $38.4 billion in revenue.
- batteries made in Australia will generate $27.6 billion and lead to 45,000 direct and indirect jobs, and
- education and training, engineering and ICT and consulting services would account for 96,000 jobs combined, and more than $17 billion in revenue.
The Sunshot report outlines a Renewable Export Strategy that includes: a $5 billion fund for workers and regions delivered by a new energy transition authority to manage the transition in regional economies and workers whose livelihoods depend on carbon-intensive industries; support for low-carbon materials in major infrastructure projects; co-investment in new industries and coordinated investment in renewable energy powered industrial precincts.
“On the back of the Jobs and Skills Summit, Australia has an opportunity to reset and set ourselves up to build the industries of the future as we decarbonise. Acting now puts us in the box seat to take advantage of our world class skills, abundant resources and proximity to markets to secure existing jobs and create new ones” says Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of Business Council of Australia.
“We can and should reach net zero by harnessing Australia’s abundant natural resources to boost exports, drive investment in new technology and deliver a stronger economy with new and better jobs”, says Ms Westacott.
“Australia has the key ingredients to build a thriving renewable export sector. We have abundant sunshine and wind, a high-quality education and research system, critical minerals resources and advanced manufacturing capabilities. Most importantly we now have a new mindset – one that sees this as the biggest opportunity in a century for our nation – to deliver meaningful change,” says Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia.
“Achieving this change will require bold, coordinated national and state actions, unlocking billions in investments that must be supported through a national renewable energy exports strategy. The time is right for Australia to play a leadership role in addressing climate change – including hosting the climate COP – because we have the potential to be the tipping point for global energy transformation,” says Mr O’Gorman.
“The Sunshot plan is an exciting and shared blueprint for creating good and well-paid jobs in renewable energy export industries, especially in the regions that have powered our country for so long,” says Michele O’Neil, President of ACTU.
“Those workers and communities most affected by our energy transition need the support, the retraining and opportunity to land those jobs. That’s exactly why we are all united on the need for a national energy transition authority to deliver this,” says Ms O’Neil.
“At present Australia’s exports are fuelling the climate crisis, but we can retain our mantle as a reliable exporter with a new focus on critical minerals, renewable energy and green steel, hydrogen and aluminium,” says Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO, Australian Conservation Foundation.
“Climate damage is here, now, so we need climate action now,” says Kelly O’Shanassy.
Read on for information on each sector and a summary of where the jobs will be created.
The participants in the panel discussion that followed Minister Bowen’s speech were:
- Moderator: Emma Herd, Partner EY
- Michele O'Neil, President at ACTU
- Karrina Nolan, Executive Director at Original Power & a key architect of the First Nations Clean Energy Network
- Kelly O’Shanassy, CEO at ACF
- Dermot O’Gorman, CEO at WWF-Australia
- Clark Butler, Director at Zero Industrials
Background information and other media releases at https://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/category/better-futures-forum
Export of hydrogen, most likely in the form of ammonia as a carrier, produced by renewable energy offers opportunity to move from a domestic product to international markets in Europe, Japan, Singapore, Korea and China. This might be done using electrolysers connected to a grid serviced by renewable energy or an off-grid renewable energy development. The market is still developing with many technical issues to be addressed however Australia has the natural resources to produce high quantities of renewable energy, and significant infrastructure and skills from the LNG industry that may be repurposed for hydrogen sector development.
Australia is well placed to capture markets looking for reliable and ethical sources of critical minerals for clean energy technology; each year, globally Australia produces 49% of lithium, 7.1% of renewable rare earths (RRE), 6.8% of nickel, 4.4% of copper and 4.1% of cobalt. Australia has existing mining expertise that can be expanded to make critical minerals mining processes cleaner, particularly in electrifying processes and swapping supply to renewably sourced energy.
Building batteries in Australia will expand the number and types of jobs in and supporting lithium mines in Western Australia in the first instance. Australia currently mines just under half of the world’s supply of lithium.
But battery manufacturing will also use the significant chemical, cell and electrical manufacturing capacity in the major metropolitan regions of eastern Australia and capitalise on existing warehousing, shipping and transport infrastructure and high skilled labour.
A large number of jobs will be supported by a skilled workforce already in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, with 35% of jobs for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 27% with a Cert III qualification. Approximately 5% of jobs will support people with ‘other’ types of qualifications and 32.% for no post school qualification.
Australia exported ~$12 bn worth of engineering, ICT, consulting and mining services in 2018-19, with ICT exports particularly growing significantly, with a 5-year average annual growth rate of 14.6%. Australian software companies now generate revenue all over the world, with the US, Canada, South Africa, Indonesia and Chile currently the main international markets.
In addition, there are a growing number of Australian companies exporting environmental, renewable energy and energy efficiency services globally with 100+ Australian companies currently providing clean energy related engineering, consulting, and other professional services to key export markets in Asia as well as the Americas, Europe and the Middle East.
Boost to regions
Where new jobs would be located:
- 69 000 in Western Australia - 23k critical minerals mining and refining; 28k green metals; 8k hydrogen
- 78 000 in Queensland - 38k critical minerals mining and refining; 15k green metals; 9k education and training
- 31 000 in South Australia - 14k green metals; 4k education and training; 5k critical minerals mining and refining
- 6 000 in Northern Territory - 4k critical minerals mining and refining; 1k green metals; 1.3k other opportunities
- 98 000 in NSW - 23k critical minerals mining and refining; 34k green metals; 19k education and training
- 67 000 in Victoria – 24k critical minerals mining and refining, 14k batteries, 13k green metals
- 4 000 in ACT – 1.7k education and training, 1k critical minerals mining and refining, 700 green metals
- 11 000 in Tasmania – 5k green metals, 3k critical minerals mining and refining; 1k education and training.