Green energy exports could be triple the value of fossil fuels, says BZE

Published by

A $333 billion green export opportunity is there for the taking, according to think tank Beyond Zero Emissions, if Australia can move quickly to secure a share of the market for clean commodities.

In its latest report, Export Powerhouse, BZE details the extent to which fossil fuels dominate Australian exports, but also puts a very large dollar figure on the potential export value of new clean commodities.

To “go for gold” and reap the biggest benefits, the report states, requires Australia to make a strong commitment to a clean export future, backed by public and private investment and progress on renewable energy industry precinct plans.

The report comes in a week dominated by mixed messages about the future of Australia’s fossil fuel exports in a net zero emissions world.

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce reminded viewers of ABC Insiders that “fossil fuels are our nation’s largest export,” while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg highlighted new opportunities to export clean energy and critical minerals in an address to the Australian Industry Group.

At least the NSW Coalition government appears to understand the opportunities, announcing on Wednesday morning its intention to become a “renewable energy superpower”, and to cut emissions by 50 per cent by 2030. Liberal governments in South Australia and Tasmania have similar green export plans.

BZE CEO Heidi Lee told RenewEconomy the report is designed to, “shine a light on the possibilities and the opportunities for Australia to be just as proud of what comes next as we have been of what we’ve done so far.”

Currently, fossil fuels (coal, oil and liquefied natural gas) make up 39 per cent of Australia’s total commodity exports, the report states. 

“That’s going to reduce to nothing in the next decades, because it’s fossil fuels, and no one’s going to want to buy our coal and gas in decades to come”, Lee said.

The climate think tank expects demand for these exports will decline, given net zero targets set by China, Japan, South Korea, the United States and the European Union, some of Australia’s largest trading partners.

Credit: Beyond Zero Emissions

“This is a critical time… for Australia to be reconsidering how we play a role in the global economy”, Lee said, citing the prospect of carbon border adjustments, and conversations in the lead up to the Glasgow climate change conference.

The report illustrates how green export industries, like green steel, renewable hydrogen and ammonia, green aluminium, and critical minerals, could eventually triple the value of existing fossil fuel exports by 2050. 

Critical minerals make up around half of the opportunity, followed by green steel.

Credit: Beyond Zero Emissions

The biggest export opportunity comes via the most ambitious approach, under what the report calls a ‘go for gold’ scenario. This would involve Australia setting a clean commodities target of $100 billion by 2035, together with public and private investment in infrastructure, technologies and skills development. 

Other recommendations include making green exports a priority for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Austrade and Export Finance Australia, establishing a $20 billion Supergrid Deployment Authority and launching Renewable Energy Industrial Precinct plan.

Two other scenarios in the report include ‘slow starter’ and ‘back of the pack’, a delayed approach where Australia maintains a reliance and focus on fossil fuels.

In August, Grattan Institute highlighted Australia’s potential as an exporter of critical minerals and called for the federal government should establish a $10 billion industrial transformation future fund to start “bending the curve” on industry emissions.

Published by

Recent Posts

World’s biggest renewables player to create major “greentailer” in Australia

World's biggest renewable energy company secures energy retail licence in Australia where it will offer…

6 December 2021

Labor has produced a brilliant renewables plan wrapped up in a terrible climate plan

Labor has cancelled out the massive increase in renewable potential by allowing for greater emissions…

4 December 2021

Regulator tips “big reduction” in emissions in 2022, as renewables push out more coal

Latest Clean Energy Regulator data sets the scene for "a big reduction of emissions” going…

3 December 2021

Look, no taxes! Labor’s modest target assumes 82 pct renewables and 89 pct EVs by 2030

Labor eyes 82 pct market share for renewables and 89 pct share of EVs in…

3 December 2021

NSW seeks wind, solar and storage proposals for Hunter and Central Coast REZ

NSW seeks proposals for wind, solar and storage project in a new renewable energy zone…

3 December 2021

Labor lowers 2030 target to 43 per cent, to blunt Morrison scare campaign

Labor to take a 43 per cent emissions target to the next federal election, and…

3 December 2021