While northern Queensland bites its nails worrying about what possible jobs could replace coal, in Victoria, the Andrews government is pushing full steam ahead with a massive solar program that’s igniting a whole lot of spinoff business.
In Whyalla in South Australia, as we all know, maverick entrepreneur Sanjeev Gupta is showing there is renewable life after the closure of the town’s steelworks.
And in NSW, there is bated breath waiting to see if the newly re-elected Libs have the moral mettle to push forward with what their business and consumer constituents want – bright smart fresh clean and green economy and society – and resist pandering to a bunch of jubilant coal lovers in Canberra, political stablemates though they be.
So question: How do we get through this deepening and widening political ravine?
The answer is hard to tell right now; too much staring into the bottom of the beer glass from one half of us and too much blinding sparkle through the crystal champagne glass for the other.
Logic tells us the answer must be collaborative.
And the thing that spans both camps has to be and must be business. Simple business.
The green shoots in some places as we note above are now way beyond sapling stage and within cooee of a small glade.
Jonathan Jutsen is well known as a voice for a more efficient energy industry. Like everyone else in this space he’s clearly been thinking of how to deal with a government that has deliberately placed ministers in climate/sustainability related area that really shouldn’t be let anywhere near such areas.
In a recent article he’s penned for his network, Jutsen first cites Ross Garnaut’s call for Australia to become a “global renewable energy superpower”. Great idea, he says. If you take a look at Germany, you get the drift.
“It’s embracing the emergence of low cost decentralised renewable energy and storage technology; digital technologies such as internet of things, artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing (Industry 4.0); and high productivity electricity end use technologies in every sector”.
“This provides the basis for the next generation of clean economic growth – what Jeremy Rifkin calls the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’.”
But the business opportunities reach so much further.
There will be a “massive requirement for technology, new business models, capital and skilled labour to deliver this transformation,” Jutsen points out.
Here’s his list:
Mass retrofitting of residential and commercial buildings. Think how poorly insulated they are, the single glazing, the fabulously “leaky” construction so many Aussie builders love to skite about. We’ll need highly efficient heating and cooling equipment, and alternative materials, plus a souped up manufacturing sector to produce pre-fab low energy buildings.
Battery storage for the never ending appetite for rooftop solar (not to mention the technologies to make it efficient and curtail emerging issues, that were not anticipated, we’ll bet).
Along with that we’ll need load management and optimisation systems.
Industrial technology that can create energy efficiencies will also need development. It will need more renewables, electrification of process heating and digitalisation plus artificial intelligence turned to a good thing like energy management.
Now for transport. We’ll need new vehicles, autonomous vehicles and new services, charging infrastructure, control systems for optimal home charging. And then there is the need for low carbon freight transport. Just for starters.
Regional and rural areas need invigoration; the benefits of plenty of land for solar and wind could be a major benefit. This could be a nice platform for Industry 4.0 economic growth and regeneration.
Recycling and resource recovery is a story that has barely started but has a huge need and like any place with great need, innovation is flocking to this field.
Oh and energy productivity is currently the “worst in the developed world” and improving at the slowest rate.
“Doubling our energy productivity by 2030 is a $75 billion a year economic opportunity”.
Jutsen says it needs collaboration and he is proposing an Energy/Carbon Transition Authority.
And chances of success?
Not bad if you look at most of the states. He’s particularly keen to see NSW to lead the way given, he says, the quality of ministers in this area such as Rob Stokes and Matt Kean.
So Canberra, we’re all aboard. Where the bloody hell are you?