Exporting clean energy will make Australia a climate leader and boost our economy with thousands of jobs. Here's how. 

The clean energy future is here. Australia can become a global renewable export powerhouse in the next decade by replacing coal, gas and uranium with renewable energy. 

ACF — along with World Wildlife Fund, Australian Council of Trade Unions and Business Council of Australia — commissioned a new report from research firm Accenture, which shows that if Australia locks in the right policies and investment now, clean energy exports could generate $85 billion and create 395,000 future-proof jobs by 2040.

jobs_clean_exports_.jpgIndustrial engineer. Photo: By Shutter.B/Shutterstock

A large number of these new jobs could be in regional areas, many for communities that currently rely on jobs from the coal and gas industry. 

Workers who face an uncertain future as the world transitions away from coal and gas could have long-term stable jobs in renewable energy exports.

So what are clean energy exports?

  1. Renewable hydrogen and ammonia We can make green hydrogen with 100% renewable energy. Hydrogen is a fuel that produces no carbon pollution when burnt. It's converted to ammonia for transport and back to hydrogen afterwards.
  2. Green metals We can process and export high-value metals such as aluminium and steel produced using 100% renewable energy.
  3. Critical minerals mining and processing Using responsible methods, we can mine, process and then export critical minerals that are required for clean energy technologies. 
  4. Battery production We can export batteries manufactured in Australia, many of the components would be made from minerals that are mined and recycled right here at home.
  5. Education and training Driven by growing demand for skills in the clean energy sector, we can attract international student enrolments in clean energy and environment related fields of study at Australian Universities and VET institutions.
  6. Engineering, ICT and consulting services We can export services required to scale clean energy projects globally, including engineering and project management, construction, research and technology, systems integration, and much more.

Climate damage is here, now. It’s harming our health and it threatens our way of life. 

After Russia and Saudi Arabia Australia is the biggest exporter of coal and gas globally.

The industries Australia was built on are changing as the world moves away from coal and gas because of climate change. It’s time for the next chapter in the Australian story. 

We can maintain the strength of our industries and our role as a big exporter of energy and be a climate leader, by ramping up the shift to clean energy. 

Lucky for Australia, the combination of our abundant sun, wind and land, critical minerals and proximity to Asia combined with our top-tier renewable expertise puts us ahead of the pack. But we’re not the only country who could seize the renewable exports opportunity.

That’s why we need genuine national leadership to secure our future. 

We need the federal government to invest in a renewable export industry rather than trying to further expand fossil exports at the detriment of our climate and the long-term resilience of our economy. We have to choose where we direct our people, skills and energy, and public money.

coal_ship.pngShip being loaded with coal. Photo: By InfinitumProdux/Shutterstock.com

Investing in a clean export future looks like this.

Renewable Exports Policy Guide

So what jobs will there be?

More than half of the new jobs created by renewable exports are in mining, manufacturing and professional services, and are stable highly skilled jobs. 80% of these jobs will offer permanent full-time or part-time employment.


Breakdown of clean export jobs by sector.

Of the 395,000 new jobs a large number of these could be in regions that currently employ a high percentage of coal and gas workers, regions like the Hunter Valley, Central QLD, Newcastle, Illawarra, Latrobe- Gippsland as well as Regional WA and Regional SA.

The report calls for a $5 billion fund managed by a new energy transitions authority which would be made up of stakeholders like government, industry unions and First Nations people to help manage the impacts of transition on workers and regions with carbon-intensive industries.

Transitioning our economy off coal and gas to clean energy exports doesn’t mean coal and gas communities will be left behind.

The report shows that if we invest in renewable energy-related research and education, we can train the workforce that will be required to scale new renewable industries globally.

hydrogen_.jpgRendering of hydrogen energy storage system. Photo: By Petrmalinak/Shutterstock.com

The solutions to climate change are here and they match the scale of the problem. 

We’re one of the sunniest, windiest countries in the world. We can produce enough energy to power our lives with clean energy and have enough for our neighbours. 

We need to make a choice — should our governments continue to fund polluting industries like coal and gas that are on their way out or renewable energy that helps future-proof the economy and keep climate change in check? 

We’ve got the tools and talent to get the job done. Let’s get on with it.

Read the full report


Header image. Wind farm engineer. Photo: Serts istock

Elizabeth Sullivan

Climate Campaigner – Exports