Australia, Offshore Wind Energy, Policy, Projects, Renewables, Uncategorised, Wind Projects

Barrier dropped for clean energy ties

Tim Buckley, wind turbine

In a move hailed as a pragmatic step towards enhancing cooperation on clean energy, Australia has dropped its anti-dumping duties on imported Chinese wind turbines.

In a decision that signals a thawing of trading tensions between China and Australia, it opens the door for deeper collaboration in accelerating the nation’s renewable transition.

According to Tim Buckley, CEO of Climate Energy Finance, lifting the punitive trade barriers represents a positive development aligned with Australia’s ambitions to tackle the climate crisis through a collective global response.

With China standing out as the world’s undisputed leader in renewable manufacturing and zero-emissions technologies, Australia has much to gain from such cross-border partnerships.

“Australia doesn’t have a domestic wind turbine industry of substance,” Buckley said.

“It’s crucial we collaborate with world leaders like China when it comes to the energy transformation.”

He emphasised the immense opportunities for joint investment, given China’s massive capacity-building and unparalleled investments across these future industries.

However, deepening technological and economic ties with the Chinese side have sparked concerns over national security risks and supply chain dependencies. Buckley said a balanced approach involving strategic partnerships carefully structured as “win-win” collaborations safeguarding both sides’ interests.

“We need to consider supply chain diversity,” he said. “One option is partnering with Chinese firms to build joint manufacturing capacity in Australia, sharing their world-leading expertise while mitigating risks to our national security.”

The renewable energy shift is gaining momentum under Australia’s new Labor Government. Its recent $330 million investment in industrial decarbonisation projects, while modest, marks “an important step in the right direction,” according to Buckley.

He argued that a nationwide carbon price would have been the ideal policy tool but acknowledged the political challenges.

Looking ahead, many experts believe Australia’s future prosperity hinges on becoming a renewable energy superpower focused on value-added processing of critical minerals, rather than simply exporting raw materials. However, significant hurdles must be overcome.

Buckley identified the lack of a international carbon price and Australia’s relatively sluggish deployment of large-scale wind and solar projects as major barriers.

“China is installing 20-24 gigawatts of renewable energy per month. Australia is struggling at one-twentieth of that pace,” he said.

Tim Buckley
Tim Buckley, CEO of Climate Energy Finance. Image: supplied

To enable exports of “green” products like iron and aluminum, Buckley said the urgent need for Australia to invest tens of billions into modernising its grid infrastructure and building massive renewable energy capacity, particularly in regions like the Pilbara.

“We need to have low-cost, zero-emissions renewable energy at the scale required as a prerequisite for decarbonising our exports,” he said.

Buckley also suggested the government should allocate more public capital to catalyse private investment while reinforcing strategic policies outlined in the “Future Made in Australia” plan.

Potential initiatives could include extending the $1.3 billion electrification program, boosting spending on energy-efficient social housing, and introducing production tax credits to incentivise domestic solar manufacturing without raising costs for consumers.

“There should be a budget subsidy effectively valuing the geopolitical cost of enhancing national energy security and driving supply chain diversity,” Buckley said.

To Buckley, Australia’s renewable future is the dominance of solar power coupled with battery storage and electric vehicles.

“When you look at the fundamentals, solar is by far and away the lowest-cost source of zero-emissions energy available to Australia,” Buckley said.

“I firmly believe solar, and batteries will dramatically lead the transformation of our energy system, complimented by wind and other renewables playing supporting roles.”

According to him, green hydrogen currently faces challenges regarding cost competitiveness. He suggests that further advancements are needed in the industry to unlock its full potential.

Buckley said the importance of financing commercial-scale hydrogen projects to facilitate “learning by doing” and pave the way for eventual large-scale deployment.

Rather than solely focusing on exporting hydrogen directly, Buckley envisions an innovative approach where green hydrogen can be utilised for the production of ‘green iron’, thus creating environmentally friendly steel products.

These products could meet the demands of major trading partners such as China, Japan, and Korea. This strategic use of green hydrogen also showcases its versatility and aligns with the global shift towards sustainable practices.

As the global climate crisis intensifies and trade tensions persist, Buckley believes Australia must chart a pragmatic course balancing economic, environmental, and security priorities. Strategic partnerships with China unlocking mutual benefits will be key but must be carefully structured to protect national interests on both sides.

“The new government is working to normalise relationships and remove unnecessary punitive impediments to collaboration with China,” Tim Buckley said.

“This climate crisis requires a combined global response, and there are enormous opportunities for cooperation when done the right way.

“With political will, sound policies, substantial investment, and cross-border cooperation, Australia can accelerate its transition to becoming a renewable energy superpower – a vital economic transformation to secure a prosperous and sustainable future in the era of climate change.”

This article featured in the February edition of ecogeneration. 

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