WWF and EY call government to invest $2 billion in renewables

14 July 2020 Consultancy.com.au 3 min. read

A new EY study commissioned by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) recommends that Australia focus on renewables in its economic recovery from Covid-19. A $2 billion investment could yield $10 billion in economic returns, as per the study. 

Stimulus packages are the need of the hour, as the current spending crunch has a devastating impact on economies across the globe. Many economies are looking for high-speed and high-impact investments, which bodes poorly for the global renewables sector, given the segment’s long gestation period.

While many go down the fossil fuel route, EY and WWF recommend that Australia choose renewables. For starters, the global economy is shifting away from carbon in the long run, and the present scenario throws up the perfect opportunity to rebuild around sustainable energy generation.

Besides, a focus on renewables even represents a better investment strategy from a short-term economic perspective. EY reports that investing in renewables could directly create 100,000 jobs in Australia, which is three times the number of jobs than fossil fuel projects would generate.

This appears like a golden scenario at a time when more than a million Australians have fallen out of work due to the Covid-19 crisis. Then there is the fact that a thriving renewables sector would inject momentum into Australian manufacturing, expand its exports, and create new revenue channels.

WWF and EY call government to invest $2 billion in renewables

A $2 billion “renewable led stimulus package,” according to EY and WWF, could generate returns of up to $10 billion. This stimulus package should rest on five pillars, according to the report. Firstly, a $500 million investment in battery manufacturing could not only create nearly 7,000 jobs across manufacturing and construction, but it could also make Australia a world leader in battery manufacturing – what EY and WWF term a “battery nation.”

The second pillar is solar energy. EY suggests the government focus on delivering one new solar project in each community across Australia. This would draw $500 million in government funds, making it the largest solar development in the country’s history. Returns on this investment include the generation of nearly 5,000 jobs, and reduced energy costs for rural communities across Australia. 

Third, EY recommends that all buses in Australia be made electric. Once the manufacturing capacity to make electric buses is in place, Australia could become a global exporter. “We can make the world’s best buses right here, and sell them across the globe,” said EY and WWF. This would require nearly $240 million, and would create an additional 10,000 bus manufacturing jobs, doubling the segment’s current workforce.

The fourth pillar is a comprehensive overhaul of manufacturing in Australia to rely on renewable energy. This is the pillar drawing the highest investment – $520 million – and generating the highest employment return at more than 20,000 new jobs. Such a strategy would give Australia the chance to modernise its energy sector, while making its manufacturing sector competitive in a sustainable world.

The last pillar of the suggested $2 billion stimulus package is an investment in an alternative fuel source, specifically renewable hydrogen. A $225 million investment in developing renewable hydrogen could make Australia fuel secure, while creating the opportunity of becoming a global exporter of “the fuel of the future,” according to EY and WWF.