Australian manufacturers lagging in clean technology race

Australia is lagging behind Asia, the US and Europe when it comes to manufacturing clean energy technology, a report has found.

The 2012 edition of the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Clean Energy, Living Planet report, released today, shows Australia is idling behind four of its top trading partners – China, USA, Korea and Germany – in manufacturing wind turbines, solar panels and other equipment for the production of clean energy.

In 2010 to 2011, the fastest growing clean energy manufacturing countries in terms of sales were: Taiwan, growing 36%; China, rising 29%; India, growing 19%; South Korea, 19%; and the US, 17%.

When the size of the economy was factored in to the equation, Denmark took the number-one spot, followed by China, Germany, Brazil and South Korea.

According to the report’s authors, nurturing renewable energy adoption in domestic markets is the first step towards growing a clean technology manufacturing industry.

“This report should serve as yet another reminder of the huge economic opportunities being created by the clean tech boom,” said WWF national climate change manager, Kellie Caught.

This is the third year WWF has produced the Clean Economy, Living Planet report, which this year looked at 40 countries and then ranked the top-25 based on the amount of locally-manufactured clean energy technology they sold during 2011.

Though Australia was found to be lagging in terms of growth in the area, its position improved from the 30th spot in 2009-2010 to the 26th spot in this year’s report.

WWF claimed Australia’s improved ranking was mainly due to increased sales of locally-made bioenergy products, however is ‘failing to translate its relatively good innovation conditions into commercial ventures’.

“While Australia’s ranking had improved this year, clearly more needs to be done if we are to keep pace with our trading partners in Asia,” said Caught.

“Australia now has the policy foundations in place to drive investments in clean tech, including the Renewable Energy Target and the carbon price.

“The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is currently before the Senate, will further strengthen Australia’s policy support for clean energy and help secure our share of the global clean tech boom.

“Australia has a proud history in machinery and equipment manufacturing as well as strong supply chains. With the right policies, Australia is perfectly placed to take advantage of the clean tech boom.”

WWF estimates that by 2015 the global market for clean technology will rival the oil and gas equipment sector, reaching between €240 billion (AUD$304 billion) and €290 billion AUD$368 billion).