An ambitious policy on climate change and zero-carbon industry could make Australia the first country in the world to produce coal-free steel, said climate think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
As the Australian Labor Party unveils its vision for a jobs-rich low-carbon economy, BZE says the two ingredients needed to achieve this vision are an industry sector that runs entirely on renewable electricity, and the growth of new, zero-carbon manufacturing opportunities.
“Renewable electricity is more affordable and reliable than gas or coal, and Australia has several times the wind and sun resources needed to be fully renewables-powered,” said Vanessa Petrie, CEO, Beyond Zero Emissions.
“Switching from fossil fuels to renewables is a no-brainer for industries wanting to boost competitiveness, provide long-term job security for workers, or grow their business and workforce by seizing new market opportunities in the green economy.
“The Federal government must support industry by providing the policy certainty, investment, and incentives needed to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity,” said Ms Petrie.
She also called on policymakers to invest in research and development to enable low-carbon manufacturing innovations such as renewable hydrogen and coal-free steel.
“We already have technology that lets us make steel using hydrogen instead of metallurgical coal, and countries like Austria and Sweden are developing pilot plants to make fossil-free steel at scale.
“But Australia has more iron ore than anywhere else in the world, and more than enough wind and sunshine to power our steelmaking and other industries.
“With the right investments, we could become a top exporter of zero-carbon steel and renewable hydrogen, while re-employing coal workers in these sunrise industries.
“Global demand for such products is growing as energy prices fall, countries look for solutions to reduce their emissions, and investors assess opportunities based on their sustainability requirements.
“Increasing our climate ambition and investing in new, clean industries will benefit Australian workers, businesses, and communities. This is an opportunity we shouldn't miss,” concluded Ms Petrie.
Beyond Zero Emissions' Electrifying Industry report, which outlines how Australian manufacturing can switch to renewable electricity, is available here.