24 Oct 2021


Australia is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the renewable and clean manufacturing export opportunity, with the right federal support and policy direction, according to an EY survey of industry experts launched today.

The survey, commissioned by WWF-Australia, includes findings from 53 renewable energy and industry experts spanning private organisations (43%), think tanks and peak bodies (21%), academic or research groups (17%), and NGOs (19%), across finance, insurance, policy, advocacy, law, energy transition and investment. 

The vast majority of respondents believe Australia has both the skills and natural resources to become a world-leading renewable and clean manufacturing exporter (74% and 93%, respectively). 

More than 80% agreed Australia is well placed to fulfil this potential by 2040, with over 65% noting their organisations or members are already exploring renewable export options and over 60% seeking to become more involved in renewable energy exporting.

Despite this momentum, respondents identified that a lack of national focus and targeted federal support comes at a cost, citing the need for a ‘strong and credible Federal Australian climate policy’ as the key enabler to unlocking Australia’s renewable export options.

81% of those surveyed noted a more targeted federal policy mandate would unlock Australia’s full clean manufacturing potential and over two-thirds of respondents (66%) believe Australia currently lacks adequate targeted support to foster innovation and help develop and upscale renewable and clean export opportunities. 

Respondents also warned the lack of federal support may ultimately lead to Australia losing its competitive edge in the renewable export market, with key competitors such as China, USA, Germany, Brazil, Chile, and UAE all ramping up their efforts. 

To help guide Australia’s renewable transition, WWF-Australia identified six key export opportunities: 1) renewable hydrogen; 2) direct electricity transfer; 3) renewable power manufacturing, products and commodities; 4) Australian expertise; 5) components and recycling and; 6) software and services.

Of these, almost half of respondents indicated Australian expertise was the most promising prospect in the immediate term (2025), while renewable hydrogen and renewable power manufacturing were seen as the strongest export prospects in both the medium (2030) and longer-terms (2040). 

Quotes attributable to Nicky Ison, Energy Transition Manager, WWF-Australia:

  • “We have a critical window to stay ahead as the world moves to act on climate change. This report proves there is a huge appetite among Australian organisations to seize the export opportunity within our grasp but, without federal policy direction, we risk being left behind.”
  • “The energy transition represents trillions of dollars of investments, technologies, infrastructure, and clean commodities and fuel supplies. With a national plan, the right ambition and investment, we have a unique opportunity to become a renewable energy superpower, capturing jobs, industries, exports, and economic investment.”
  • “Australia is home to some of the best renewable resources in the world. With our world-class solar and wind resources and rich critical mineral and metal deposits, we can produce enough renewable energy to power the nation, with plenty left over to sell to our neighbours. We stand to gain far more than we lose as global economies transition to clean, renewable energy.”

Quotes attributable to Emma Herd, Climate Change and Sustainability Partner, EY:

  • “This survey finds that Australian industry has the appetite, the resources and the capability to accelerate the growth of new industries to support the acceleration of new industries.” 
  • “Capital markets and investors are hungry for climate solutions. Accelerating the growth of clean energy and manufacturing opportunities will set Australia up to unlock investment and growth in new industries as the global economy decarbonises.”
  • “Respondents to the survey identified that with the right market, policy and technology incentivisation settings, Australia is well positioned to be a global leader in clean industry and manufacturing.”