With its abundance of natural resources, sunshine and prosperity, it’s been called the “Lucky Country,” but since 2019, Australia has made international headlines due to increasing climate crisis events, ranging from ravaging bushfires and drought to devastating floods.
But one climate emergency that hasn’t made world news should have the Canadian renewable energy sector taking notice. In June 2022, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) announced the possibility of unprecedented rotating power outages across Australia, after it capped wholesale energy prices as a way to halt rapidly rising costs.
The triggers for the potential blackouts were many—the country’s reliance on aging coal-fired power plants, damage to coal mines and transport routes from the fires and floods, control issues around gas supplies and the Russian-Ukraine conflict, to name a few.
And while Australia’s dependence on brown energy will continue into the near future, fossil fuels, including coal, currently represent 70% of total electricity generation. The country is actively financing and supporting alternative sources, like wind, solar and hydrogen, to take it into a clean energy future.
The newly minted Climate Change Bill 2022 targets a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030 and sets the country on its path to achieve net zero by 2050. To support those goals, the Australian government launched a National Hydrogen Strategy to make it a powerhouse in what chief scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel, calls “shipping sunshine” through the creation of large-scale hydrogen hubs to make and export clean energy.
The AEMO also recently released the Australia Integrated System Plan (ISP), outlining the steps Australia needs to take to make the important energy transition. Plans have also been set out by major states in Australia, including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, while the thinktank, Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, maintains an infrastructure pipeline, including renewable energy projects across the country.
It’s a bold new direction for a country that hasn’t had a new climate change bill in a decade, but lofty as it is, the region won’t have to reach its goals alone, says Diane Belliveau, Export Development Canada’s (EDC) chief representative in Australia and New Zealand.
“Australia is a blessed country, with solar and wind resources that put it in a league of its own. Its renewable energy focus potentially positions it to become ‘the battery of the world.’ As Australia addresses its important energy challenges, several Canadian companies are well-positioned to take part in the solutions that Australia needs. For those looking to enter this exciting direction for Australia, EDC has the in-country insight and tools to assist in success,” she says.