• Australia looking to use renewables to create ‘green’ steel, ammonia and biofuel exports

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

An article in the June edition of the UK’s Energy World magazine has looked at Australia’s possible pivot towards export-ready ‘green’ commodities identified by think tanks the Grattan Institute and the Clean Energy Council (in separate reports). The latter looks at the potential to bring forward an “enormous pipeline” of wind and solar projects amounting to some 30 GW of generating capacity, which would triple Australia’s total renewable power generation capacity, bringing with it something like AU$50 billion (US$34.2 billion/€30.5 billion) of investment. (In 2019, 24% of Australia’s electricity was produced by renewable energies.) The Grattan Institute report looks at how Australia could use zero carbon energy to create export goods, in effect a means of exporting renewable energies while utilising Australia’s vast mineral resources. Steel is the best first choice, according to the report, as it can help replace ‘carbon worker’ jobs – work in coal mining and other carbon intensive industries, generally in rural or remote locations – with green industrial jobs, solving the “wicked conundrum” of Australia being economically reliant on carbon-intensive industries that contribute to climate change, which in turn affects other important sectors of the Australian economy such as agriculture and tourism. The report suggests a somewhat optimistic-sounding target of capturing 6.5% of the global steel market in producing ‘green’ steel, with steelmaking furnaces utilising green hydrogen as a fuel. Australia has a competitive advantage over countries such as Japan, Korea and Indonesia in producing green steel, the report argues, because of its “extensive solar and wind resources” – though these obviously need to be further developed. Steel is not the only green commodity, however, that Australia could produce – ammonia and aviation biofuel are two others. As with all large-scale plans, governmental support is identified as being vital.