The Territory must capitalise on the growing economic advantage offered by an abundance of local solar resources to boost our manufacturing capacity.
The Environment Centre NT's groundbreaking report The 10 Gigawatt Vision demonstrated that an ambitious renewables strategy can spark a vibrant manufacturing sector in the Territory, with export opportunities in energy infrastructure, zero-carbon manufacturing and minerals processing.
The report was written in conjunction with Beyond Zero Emissions, one of Australia’s most respected energy think-tanks. It showed that by 2030, the NT Government could help drive investment in 10 gigawatts of renewables, creating over 8,000 new jobs and over $2 billion in revenue.
The Centre is responding to a leaked draft report by a manufacturing taskforce advising the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission recommends the Morrison government make sweeping changes to “create the market” for gas and accelerate the development of new fields such as the Northern Territory’s vast Beetaloo Basin.
However, research from Beyond Zero Emissions shows that electrification powered by renewable energy and storage can make Australian manufacturing more competitive, through reduced input costs and higher efficiency and productivity.
“Boosting Australian manufacturing as part of our economic recovery is the right idea. Gas is the wrong technology to do it,” Eytan Lenko, Beyond Zero Emissions CEO said.
Last week the Environment Centre NT called on the NT Government to prioritise renewable energy projects and expertise in its own Territory Economic Reconstruction Commission.
"The NT Government must grasp this opportunity to draw on world-class solar resources and rebuild the NT economy. By backing renewable energy initiatives we can create thousands of jobs and support the aspirations of our communities," Monica Tan, The Environment Centre NT spokesperson said.
"Compared to the long lead times of gas projects and their vulnerability to global price shocks that are already impacting NT petroleum exploration, solar farms and renewable energy infrastructure can be rolled out quickly.
"Prioritising a renewable energy economic recovery is also work that can be achieved by a growing local workforce. It will be more immune from future public health shocks that have ground FIFO operations to a halt."
Beyond Zero Emissions is working with Australian communities including in the NT to finalise a post-COVID economic recovery plan. Their ‘Million Jobs Plan’ paves the way for Australia to become an international economic powerhouse and renewable energy superpower.
The plan will “create employment, modernise our infrastructure and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including in places where traditional heavy industry has gone, droughts and fires have ravaged the agricultural sector, unemployment is high and long term employment opportunities have appeared increasingly limited”.
Lenko said, “Our upcoming report shows that over 200,000 jobs can be created by expanding manufacturing in Australia, but only if we play to our strength and make use of electrical processes.
“Electrical technologies are efficient, clean, scalable and precisely controllable by software. They can be powered by on-site renewables or through the local grid.
“Our energy and manufacturing sectors are already going through this transition, a transition that’s well advanced.
“The world will decarbonise and the pace of announcements is accelerating. In response to COVID-19 we have already seen decarbonisation front and centre of economic plans from New Zealand, South Korea, Spain and India.
“Pushing against the trend to transition to renewable led electrification will merely waste money by producing short term, unsustainable employment that will forever be reliant on public subsidy.
“Australia should not bet against this trend as fossil fuel infrastructure becomes a precarious public investment in this environment.
“Countries that use economic recovery to leap ahead into a renewable-powered future will have a strong and sustainable recovery,” he said.
Electrification of industry, renewable energy and efficiency upgrades will create millions of jobs through every sector of our economy, mostly through private investment.
“One-off gas pipelines do not come close to providing the scale of employment we are going to require.” he said.
Renewable energy is already stimulating the Territorian economy by employing a large number of electricians and tradespeople quickly.
Solar and batteries also protects households and businesses from high electricity costs, reduces costs to the overall grid and supports the energy resilience, security and independence of Territorian communities.