Australian manufacturers urged to ditch gas for solar

A join industry report has urged Australian manufacturing companies to switch from gas to solar and other technologies, and make some easy gains with some simple energy efficiency measures.

The report, published by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Energy Efficiency Council of Australia, and the Australian Industry Group, comes as manufacturers grow increasingly concerned about the soaring price of gas – and sometimes its lack of availability.

And some companies have already made the switch. Sundrop Farms in South Australia (pictured above) is the most notable, using a heavily subsidised investment in solar thermal technology that provides electricity, heat, and desalinated water for its tomato greenhouses in the arid region around Port Augusta.

The report does not suggest, however, that all manufacturers need to go to the same extent as Sundrop, but confirms that renewables do offer a cheaper source of power and electricity.

“It is no secret that manufacturers are relatively large energy users. The good news is that clean energy solutions can make a very real and positive difference,” CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth says.

“By switching to more efficient equipment and cheaper renewable energy, manufactures can improve their competitiveness as well as cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

Learmonth says that an initial investment of $50,000 or less can be recovered within just five years, producing lasting benefits for the business.

The report notes fuel switching technologies such as gas to solar thermal, solar PV, as well as bioenergy and other “low emissions” electricity.

Giles Parkinson