Australia can become a renewable energy superpower.
A realistic vision for a prosperous Australia. We have the advantages of:
- abundant quality solar and wind resources,
- a widespread electric grid,
- a skilled workforce and industry sector,
- capable research organisations,
- closeness to growing Asian markets,
- a secure stable society, and
- abundant mineral resources.
To grasp this prosperous future, we urgently need to move to renewables, acting on this report and the other Zero Carbon Australia plans. We could export electricity and hydrogen instead of coal.
The world is transitioning from the fossil energy era to the renewable energy era.
This is being driven by the rapidly reducing cost of renewables, and by the need to contain global warming below the globally agreed warming limit of 2°C. The transition will bring major changes to:
- The global energy system,
- International trade,
- Global security, and
- The distribution of energy intensive production
Those nations that (1) have competitive advantages, as does Australia, and (2) take the current, time-limited opportunity to invest in renewable energy, will be the global industrial powerhouses of the future: the renewable energy superpowers.
Australia is well placed to become a Superpower in the renewable energy era.
Australia has abundant, low-cost, clean energy. The energy that could be gained just from our readily accessible solar and wind resources, is far greater than the energy that could be gained from our vast deposits of coal, uranium, gas and oil. (Report, page 48)
There are three major opportunities that Australia could grasp.
1. Supplying equipment and solutions
The global expenditure on “renewable energy equipment” and “energy efficiency solutions” was about US$ 390 billion in 2013. This will grow rapidly, over the next 20 years, as the world replaces polluting energy systems. The opportunity to supply this renewable energy equipment and these energy efficiency solutions will peak during this transition period. The opportunity will then decline, as the replacement of fossil fuel generators with renewables nears completion. To benefit from this energy transition, businesses and nations must invest, to catch this wave of change.
2. Attracting energy intensive, trade exposed industries
Energy intensive industries currently generate US$2.3 trillion in annual trade. Those which supply international markets will tend to migrate to the places offering the lowest cost of operation. For energy intensive, trade exposed industries, places with low-cost energy will be attractive. And places with high quality renewable energy sources will have an enduring advantage.
3. Exporting renewable energy
The trading of fossil fuels will decline as renewable energy and self-sufficiency increases. Some renewable energy trade will emerge. The production and export of renewable energy commodities, such as biofuel, hydrogen and electricity are expected to play a significant role in the renewable energy future. Again, those places with high quality renewable energy sources will have a sustained advantage which will endure throughout the renewable energy era.
The future is electric
- Electricity is the most versatile and efficient of all energy sources.
- It’s the only energy that can be produced with zero emissions.
- Electric replacements for gas and petrol offer users better value.
- Electrical appliances cost approximately 48% less to run than gas
- Electric vehicles cost 32% less per km than petrol vehicles.
- It’s economical to switch to electricity.
As electrification of industries and transport occurs globally, electricity consumption will rise. This will make international differences in power prices more important. It will favour countries, like Australia, with quality renewable energy sources.
Australia risks a large 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, and this cost was offset by our coal and gas exports.
However, Australia’s fossil energy exports will decline as the world decarbonises, a process that has already begun with coal. 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 enduring advantage of abundant, internationally low-priced energy. This would provide a solid basis for our future economy.
This report offers an inspiring vision of Australia’s future, a prosperous and sustainable future.
Zero Carbon Australia: Renewable Energy Superpower
First Edition: October 2015
Beyond Zero Emissions
Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
Report: 88 pages
Report lead author: Gerard Drew
Get the Renewable Energy Superpower Report:
- Full report, free download (pdf file: 3 MB)
- Buy a “hard copy” from the BZE website shop
- A two Page Fact Sheet on the report: a free download: 731 kB.
Launching the Report
- Video (Melbourne launch – report findings plus full panel 2hrs)
- October 19 2015 national launch media release
- Audio Sydney launch – 1hr – Courtesy of 3CR BZE Radio with Sydney Launch Panel including the Hon Mark Butler MP.
- Audio Brisbane launch – edited – Courtesy of QUT with Brisbane launch panel.
- Audio 1: 24 minutes: BZE Radio with Tim Buckley, October 2015, Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
- Audio 2: 28 minutes: BZE Radio with Fergus Green, October 2015, London School of Economics
- Audio 3: 15 minute excerpt, ABC Radio Sheryle Bagwell with Ross Garnaut, Beyond Zero Emissions April report 2015. Carbon reduction in Asia will punch $100bn hole in Federal revenue by 2030: report
- Audio 4: 6 minutes: ABC Radio National Breakfast Alison Carabine, with Frank Jotzo, World Wildlife Fund report (2015) shows Australia could slash damaging carbon emissions to as low as zero by 2050 “The world knows we have tremendous potential to move away from coal and towards renewable energy sources” “Australia can in fact remain a commodity exporter and an energy superpower, it’s just that the basis of the comparative advantage is shifting to newer cleaner sources of energy”
- Video: 120 minute BZE Youtube Melbourne Launch, Ross Garnaut, Fergus Green, Karen Hussey, Gerard Drew, Tim Buckley.
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Our research is showing that Australia can rapidly move to a zero carbon emissions economy. We can become a renewable energy superpower, grasping a secure and prosperous future. View a brief overview of our plans for this transition.
Beyond Zero Emissions is having impact, for example: (1) Our 2012 report, Repowering Port Augusta, and our advocacy eventually led to the 2017 $680 million contract for a solar thermal plant in South Australia, and (2) BZE has been ranked as one of the best independent think tanks in the world, by the Lauder Institute in Pennsylvania USA.
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