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An aluminium-led energy and industry renewal for Central Queensland

September 14, 2020
Clark Butler
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Executive Summary

“The full emergence of Australia as an energy superpower of the low-carbon world economy would encompass large-scale early-stage processing of Australian iron, aluminium and other minerals.”1

Australia has the potential to become a much more significant economic power in a decarbonised world. The country’s renewable energy resources sit at the heart of this enormous economic opportunity.

Australia could lead the world in producing the components of low-carbon industrialisation

Australia could lead the world in producing the components of low-carbon industrialisation: aluminium, steel, cement, silicon, lithium and rare earth minerals, with value-adding processing before exports to enhance Australian investment and employment.

This report explores how the country can both decarbonise and grow heavy industry with a focus on Gladstone, Queensland.

The generation of electricity is Australia’s largest source of carbon emissions (33%). Closing the country’s four aluminium smelters would reduce Australian electricity demand by 10% with a consequential reduction in emissions associated with electricity use.

However, electricity is also key to the rapid decarbonisation of other major emitting sectors such as transport, heating, industrial processing and manufacturing that account for 55% of the country’s emissions.

Instead of closing the country’s loss-making and high emitting aluminium smelters, these industries could transition rapidly to renewable electricity, invest in plant upgrades to support demand response management, and profit from the long-term growth of the metals and industrial processing markets.

Aluminium smelters could become giant virtual batteries.

1Garnaut, R. Superpower: Australia's Low-Carbon Opportunity. 2019. p 11.

Press release: Investing in renewable energy will repower aluminium and heavy industry sectors


Clark Butler

Clark Butler is an IEEFA guest contributor, and a corporate adviser with a background in the technology and finance sectors.

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