Australia should grasp a prosperous future, by becoming a renewable energy superpower.

We have the competitive advantages of:

  • world class solar and wind resources,
  • space and a valuable existing electricity grid infrastructure,
  • a skilled and innovative workforce and industry sector,
  • capable well-placed research organisations – universities and the CSIRO,
  • proximity to the large and growing Asian markets
  • a secure, stable society,
  • high quality and abundant mineral resources.

Australia should be eager to move to low cost reliable and abundant renewable energy.

Renewable Energy Superpower Plan
Released October 2015 by
Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE)

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 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, like 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 certainly has abundant, low-cost, clean energy. The energy that could be gained only from Australia’s readily accessible solar and wind energy resources is far greater than the energy that could be gained from our vast deposits of coal, uranium, gas and oil. (Report, p 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.  Businesses and nations must invest during this wave of change to benefit from the energy transition.

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, and 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 these imports are growing.  The cost is currently 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 Australia maintains its reliance on imported fossil fuels like petrol, and coal exports take a dive, then we could suddenly 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.

Publishing details

Zero Carbon Australia: Renewable Energy Superpower
First Edition: October 2015
ISBN 978-0-9923580-1-3

Published by
Beyond Zero Emissions
Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia

Report: 88 pages

Report lead author: Gerard Drew

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