Australian manufacturers could save up to 50% of their energy costs by switching to renewable electricity according to a new report released by Beyond Zero Emissions.
The Electrifying Industry report also shows how Australian companies could become world leaders in energy-intensive industries such as zero-emissions steel, renewable ammonia and fossil-fuel free carbon fibre.
“Australian manufacturers are fighting a doubling of costs in gas and electricity bills by doing business as usual,” said CEO Vanessa Petrie.
“Cheap energy costs in the past have created a sector which uses more energy dollar of output than any other developed country.
“By electrifying industrial heat processes, supported by renewables, Australian manufactures can reclaim control of their energy costs and enjoy the benefits of falling renewable energy costs for years to come,” said Petrie.
The report shows the technical capacity for production of low-emissions glass, paper, aluminium, steel, pre-prepared meals, milk powder, ammonia, bricks, plastic and beer.
“With Australia’s unparalleled resources in solar and wind energy, we could electrify all industrial processes. This would eliminate up to 8% of national greenhouse gas emissions, and relieve industry of its dependence on gas,” said Petrie.
Head of research and lead author of the report, Michael Lord believes there is a missed opportunity for thousands of businesses across Australia.
“We found many manufacturers could save money today simply by replacing their gas-fired boilers with industrial heat pumps. It’s just not widely taken up yet.”
Lord said there is a role for government to play in supporting some businesses with programs and incentives which assist them to invest in efficient electrical technologies.
“Some companies would struggle to make the capital investment needed to switch to electricity, so there is a role for government to provide some support,” said Lord.
“We’d see this as part of a broader industrial policy which would help Australian manufacturers contribute to the Paris climate agreement and capitalise on the zero-carbon opportunity.”
Petrie said companies are already making commitments to be 100% renewable in terms of their energy use.
“We’ve seen examples of businesses are who already paying 20 to 50% less for electricity by switching to renewables and with renewable energy set to be 30 to 50% cheaper in just 10 years, their costs will continue to fall.”
“As the world transitions away from fossil fuels, we will see most industrial processes becoming emissions free. Our report shows its possible now.”