Jobs potential in clean power
3 March 2011, by IAN WHITING
AUSTRALIA is in the early stages of a clean energy boom, with tens of billions of dollars to be invested in renewable energy in regional areas over the coming decades.
And south-west Victoria is in sight of gaining a significant slice of the boom.
This follows ground-breaking research launched this week by Federal Independent, Tony Windsor, demonstrating not only potential regional clean energy resources available, but outlining pathways for regions to maximise employment and investment opportunities.
Climate Institute chairman, Mark Wootton, of Hamilton, who attended the launch in Canberra, said the research looked across Australia to see where there would be new sector jobs.
“What they found is there will be a lot more jobs as we move towards cleaner energy,” he said.
“This includes geothermal, large scale solar, bio energy, hydro, wind and natural gas which is significant for us in south-west Victoria.
“In geothermal, there is potentially a whole range of what are called ‘hot rocks’ areas available. We are not sure exactly where they are. We know there are some in south-west Victoria and that is great because that gives you the baseline predictable power.
“The problem with wind is that on a national basis it works, but you need to have all the grid linked to be guaranteed baseline power.”
Based on modelling, the Clean Energy Jobs in Regional Australia Snapshot Victoria report estimated that more than 6800 new jobs would be created in Victoria’s electricity sector by 2030, including over 1000 permanent ongoing jobs, close to 4600 construction jobs and more than 1200 manufacturing jobs. The vast majority would be in renewable energy.
Mr Wootton said the report took into account job losses in the coal industry over time.
“These are net figures after losses. In growth there will be job losses which in Victoria will be in the La Trobe valley,” he said.
However, Mr Wootton said there was significant potential for clean energy jobs in western Victoria.
“In real job terms the commercial scale renewable energy potential for the Western District is: new ongoing jobs (over 20 years) full time equivalent is 667, construction is 692, and manufacturing is 187.
“Manufacturing is where they build the wind towers. That is the hardest figure to put your finger on because that could explode – if they get good at it they will export them everywhere.
“The lowest numbers we are looking at is 1545 and then the enhanced scenario is a lot bigger than that. It is 3389, which is significant for a place like western Victoria.
“We are in a very strong position. We are strong in agriculture and we are strong in renewable energy. There is nothing to fear other than change itself,” he said.
Climate Institute chief executive, John Connor, said the research showed pollution pricing and clean energy support policies unlocked the door to significant regional employment and investment opportunities, but also highlighted the skills and industry development policies necessary to realise them.
“The Climate Institute has commissioned leading energy and industry specialists to model the opportunities and to talk to regional business and community leaders to not only see what extra opportunities exist, but to see what else is necessary to turn opportunity into reality,” he said
Mr Windsor launched the Climate Institute’s series of policy briefs, state and regional snapshots and roadmaps and an interactive website for Clean Energy Jobs in Regional Australia.
“Australia stands at the doorway to a clean energy transition that can drive tens of billions of dollars of investment in the electricity sector creating a net increase of close to 34,000 new jobs in regional Australia,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Realising these opportunities for Australia, and regional Australia, will require our politicians to make companies like power generators, responsible for the pollution they create, policies to grow clean energy such as the Renewable Energy Target, plus skills and industry development policies.
“Australia has largely untapped energy resources in geothermal, large scale solar, bio-energy, hydro, wind and natural gas.”
Modelling shows that by 2030 around 43 per cent of Australia’s electricity could be produced from clean energy, compared with 12 per cent today.