What are Australia’s greatest exports:

  • Kylie Minogue?
  • Ugg boots?
  • Renewable exports?

If you haven’t heard of the third, you wouldn’t be the first.

Renewable-powered manufacturing or renewable exports, let’s call them ‘REX’ for short, are Australia’s ticket to a cleaner energy future. Let us REXplain:

What are renewable exports?

For decades Australia has been a ‘dig and ship’ nation, we are one of the world’s biggest exporters of coal and gas. 

Regardless of where these polluting fuels are burned, they damage our climate, fuelling megafires and floods at home and destroying the places we love like the Great Barrier Reef.

Transitioning our economy from dirty fossil fuel exports towards renewable powered manufacturing and renewable exports is key to a safer climate, job security and prosperity. 

What renewables can we export?

The good news is, there are plenty of opportunities already in our own backyard, REXcellent! Here are just a few that you can rattle off to your friends: 

  • The “heavy lifter” renewable hydrogen

Renewable hydrogen can be used to replace the fossil fuels that power heavy industry like steel and aluminium. And when you make these metals out of renewable hydrogen, you get green steel and green aluminium! 

Demand for these products are increasing, and our trade partners are willing to pay a ‘green premium’. This can be really helpful as we work to get these industries powered by renewables instead of fossil fuels. 

  • Critical Minerals

There’s a lot of talk about critical minerals, and this is a critical conversation. Australia has an abundance of these minerals, used predominantly for making batteries, solar and wind components. Although it is an extractive process, unlike fossil fuels, these minerals can be recycled and re-circulated in the system. 

We must ensure that we build this ‘circularity’ into our use of these minerals so that we only need to mine them once. Then we can close and responsibly remediate mine sites.

It’s also important that when developing the renewable industries of the future, companies and Government make sure to do it in a way that benefits nature and communities. That can look like anything from using degraded land and co-locating with agriculture to benefit sharing with regional and First Nations communities.

  • Battery manufacturing

It’s time to take charge of our local battery manufacturing industry. Global demand for batteries has grown 64% since 2021, and it's not going away anytime soon.

Instead of mining lithium or cobalt, shipping it out then buying back batteries, we can look at our capacities at home and the government has already indicated support in this space. 


Photo: only_kim / Shutterstock

The huge potential of renewable exports 

Our growing renewable powered manufacturing sector has the potential to make over $314 billion per year and 395,000 good, secure jobs. In order to succeed, the Albanese Government needs to develop an Australian Renewable Industry Plan.

Smart policy, coupled with bold public investment are the missing pieces that we need to provide the security that investors and businesses need. So, REX get started!

Email Treasurer Jim Chalmers and tell him Australians want bold investment in renewable powered manufacturing.

Elizabeth Sullivan

Climate Campaigner – Exports