Diversifying The Global Supply Chain Could Boost Australia’s Solar Cell Industry

Suppose it heeds the International Energy Agency’s request to diversify the world’s solar cell supply chain. In that case, Australia might begin a “renaissance” in solar manufacturing and have a rare opportunity to expedite its transition to renewable energy.

According to an agency assessment released on Friday, more than 80 percent of PV solar supply chain components are controlled by Chinese manufacturers. A single factory creates one in seven panels produced worldwide.

According to the research, “this concentration level in any global supply chain would constitute a substantial vulnerability; solar PV is no exception.

It was anticipated that if the supply chain was diversified, new investment in PV solar manufacturing facilities might bring in US$120 billion by 2030, creating 1,300 manufacturing jobs.

Solar power is “the most economical energy generation technology in many regions of the world,” according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). However, some feel this figure is too low and that global production capacity will be between 500-600GW by the end of 2022.

According to Clean Energy Finance thinktank director Tim Buckley, new plants being built in China would increase global supply and keep prices low. In contrast, increasing demand as the price of fossil fuels rises.

According to Buckley, China is completing an integrated factory capable of producing 60GW of solar cells and modules annually, nearly the amount of solar capacity added in 2015 – and this factory is expected to be operational in 2017.

“The IEA has understated demand yearly for a decade,” Buckley added. “I understand that China will treble global module supply during the next 12 to 18 months.”

One million manufacturing jobs might be created worldwide by 2030, with others in installation and maintenance, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

In addition, the IEA found that one-third of all installation jobs in Australia – including electrician and installer positions – were empty and at risk of remaining unfulfilled in 2023.

According to Australia Institute research fellow Dr. Mark Dean, the situation is an “indictment” of the former federal government,” and the new Labor administration must give priority to energy transition in any future industrial strategy.”

“If we were to see renewable energy and our climate change duties treated straight on, we could see a rebirth in manufacturing and restore Australia’s role as a leader in renewable energy technology,” he said.

In the early 2000s, the business switched from Australia to China, which has invested US$50 billion in solar over the past decade.

Australia presently has only one solar manufacturer, Tindo Solar, expanding its production.

Professor Alistair Sproul, dean of the University of New South Wales School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, played an early role in efforts to establish a local industry.

While China has been instrumental in lowering the cost, the experience of supply bottlenecks has shown that Australia must have a baseline capacity to produce solar panels.

Despite the International Energy Agency’s warning that the country’s prolonged reliance on coal would result in higher CO2 emissions if PV solar manufacturing facilities were established, Sproul maintained this problem could be addressed.

With renewables, we should be generating new sources of energy. The notion has been discussed for a long time, but it’s finally feasible and very affordable, according to him.

An industry may be supported by “targeted investments,” according to Australian National University’s battery storage and grid integration program director Dr. Bjorn Sturmberg.

Automation and Australia’s solar research and innovation may help to manufacture, Sturmberg said. Though Chinese production efficiency is a big obstacle, there are chances for differentiation on what is currently a uniform, low-cost product.

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