While our trading partners grab the opportunities created by cleantech, 2014 saw the Australian market suffer from political uncertainty and record a 67 per cent plunge in new investment to $978 million, according to the latest annual review of the sector published this week by research and advisory firm, Australian CleanTech.
The sixth version of Australasian Cleantech Review review – covering nearly 1500 companies that employ 65,000 people and generate revenue of $31 billion, some 2% of the Australian GDP – found that the uncertainty has centred on the stalled renewable energy industry but has also been hit by the withdrawal of other supportive government programs.
A government that sets itself against encouraging companies that develop these efficiency solutions is confining the country to be an importer only.
ACT studies have shown that Australia has some world leading technology companies that need support to be able to reach their full potential. Without support, these companies may fail or relocate their activities to more supportive jurisdictions.
The recent Intergenerational Report (IGR) highlighted the need for technological innovation to increase productivity. Treasurer Joe Hockey said that technological advances would ‘need to do much of the heavy lifting in the future’.
“The cleantech sector provides the mechanism to help existing industry to increase productivity and competitiveness whilst at the same time meeting the needs of a growing Asian market,” Hockey added.
“It provides a solution to the country’s productivity challenge!”
We work extensively in China and Korea facilitating bilateral technology and investment transfers and the difference in the growth in those markets compared to Australia is huge. Australia has the opportunity to export its environmental technologies and expertise to the world.
New South Wales and Victoria were the most active states with Waste, Water, Hydro, Environmental Services, Solar and Wind sub-sectors all generated more than $1 billion of revenue.
The report concludes with a forecast of the trends (see table below) that will shape the sector in 2015 along with some stabs as to how the politics may unfold.
John O’Brien is Managing Director of Australian CleanTech
The full report is available from www.auscleantech.com.au and is supported by the ASX, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the international Cleantech Investor magazine