Solar — A Future For Energy Exports
One of the oft reiterated arguments for coal goes like this: “Well, it's our main export. We can't just stop sending it overseas. I can say, without exaggeration, all Australia would be a smoking heap without it.” Or something along these lines.
First of all, it isn't. Iron ore is Australia's majority commodity to international market, not coal. By a massive margin.
Secondly, while it would require a transition — it could be done smoothly by way of an alternative that creates employment opportunities to make up for the losses from phasing it out.
Solar power is less expensive, cleaner and, when paired with a high standard of battery, even faster (100MW in 140 milliseconds kind of faster) as well as more reliable. And, although it is often passed over unnoticed, it is in fact an opportunity to diversify Australia's exports.
In Pilbara Western Australia they have seen the opening and are taking the flood of fortune at its tide by building the Asian Renewable Energy Hub.
A mix of solar and wind tallying to 11GW — 7.5+GW wind and 3.5+GW PV — it is on point to become far and away the biggest industrial scale installation in the entire country.
It will bring down prices for electricity locally while the lion's share will be exported to Indonesia or Singapore via underwater cabling with a marginal loss of only 6% over 2,000km.
It is set to be a masterpiece of firmed renewables: solar when the sun's out — wind when it is a dark day or nighttime. This allows for predictable pricing and effective cost competitiveness.
Given the amount of insolation Australia sees, solar energy exports could easily overtake coal. Australia could even establish itself as a world leader. More sun in Australia than coal or hydrocarbons underneath it.
There is a market segment just waiting to be claimed.