The Australian clean technology (cleantech) industry now generates revenue of nearly $30 billion a year and employs well over 50,000 people, according to a new study by advisory firm Australian Cleantech. The biggest growth sectors in the cleantech industry were found to be solar power, water (management), energy efficiency, and green building.
This substantial revenue base makes it one quarter the size of Australia’s whole manufacturing sector, and bigger than the nation’s auto manufacturing sector, REneweconomy has reported. According to the Cleantech Review, the cleantech sector employs five times as many people per dollar of revenue than general manufacturing does.
In case you were wondering, the cleantech sector is defined as products and services that have both economic and ecological benefits. Some of these products and services include renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste and recycling, water management, and carbon trading
Not surprisingly, the states of New South Wales (where Sydney is) and Victoria (where Melbourne is) were found to be the most active states in cleantech, with solar, water, wind, and environmental services all creating more than a billion dollars in revenue last year. In comparison, Western Australia and Queensland had a small amount of activity in cleantech, because of the continued focus on mining in those states. Overall, the cleantech industry generated 2.0% of Australia’s GDP in 2012, which was up from 1.8% the year before.
Despite the seemingly rosy numbers, the managing director of Australian Cleantech, John Obrien, has said that Australia is now at risk of falling further behind the world in cleantech, especially compared to leading economies in Asia, such as China and South Korea. Europe is also making some great strides, with Germany leading the region in a full-blown effort to transition to renewable energy at a fast clip.
With the world increasingly turning to innovative clean technologies, especially renewable energy, can Australia grow its cleantech industry at a pace that allows it compete successfully with nations currently leading in cleantech? In my opinion, clean technology is destined to be one of the laargest industries in the world this century. Australia would be foolish not to invest heavily in this area now. It won’t be able to rely on its huge carbon-intensive coal industry for very much longer.
Image CC licensed by Lawrence Murray: Windfarm in Albany, Western Australia