Sunday Territorian

Transition is nation’s chance to become an energy superpower


AUSTRALIA invented the modern solar panel back in the 1980s and today we have the highest uptake of rooftop solar in the world.

You would expect that many of these panels would be manufactur­ed here. Sadly, that is not the case.

We were poised to become a leading manufactur­er and exporter of this game-changing technology. Instead, Australia today manufactur­es less than 1 per cent of the world’s solar panels. This was a spectacula­r mistake we cannot afford to repeat.

Transition­ing the world to clean energy represents trillions of dollars of investment­s in new technologi­es, infrastruc­ture, commoditie­s and fuel supplies. Analysis by the Internatio­nal Energy Agency estimates the global investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency equipment will reach $US28 trillion by 2035.

Australia is perfectly positioned to benefit. With our vast landmass, highly skilled workforce and rich deposits of lithium and other minerals needed for batteries and other clean energy technologi­es, we have all the resources not only for our own domestic energy supply, but to become a leading energy export superpower.

With the right government support and policy frameworks, Australia could generate $89 billion in new trade and create 395,000 new jobs by 2040. And it is regional communitie­s that will see the greatest jobs growth. Several major projects are underway to build facilities that will harness our wind and sunshine to create clean hydrogen. And, if we are proactive, we could capture a large piece of the growing global demand for renewable iron and green aluminium.

We could build onshore refineries powered by renewables to create jobs and substantia­lly increase the value we derive from Australia’s rich deposits of lithium, copper and nickel.

However, we must act fast because the window is closing. Collaborat­ion is needed between government­s and the private sector.

Innovators and investors need a supportive policy environmen­t, access to capital and assistance in setting up new clean energy ventures.

Unlike other countries, Australia’s energy transition needn’t be characteri­sed by sacrifice and trade-offs. Nicky Ison is Energy Transition Manager at WWF-Australia

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