A manufacturing lobby says investment is needed to smooth the move to renewable energy. 

Manufacturing Australia - a coalition of big manufacturers  - says energy costs are too high to accelerate the shift away from fossil fuel to renewables. 

It wants urgent investment of around $120 billion for transmission and dispatchable power, which would require “Australia to more than double its total electricity generation”, according to Manufacturing Australia chief executive Ben Eade.

“That makes government investments in renewable energy zones, in transmission infrastructure and grid connection, and in gas peaking, hydro and battery storage not only essential but increasingly urgent.

“It also makes the disorderly or premature closure of thermal power generators, before they are suitably replaced, a clear risk to Australian manufacturers.”

Manufacturing Australia, whose members include BlueScope, Brickworks, CSR, Incitec Pivot and Tomago Aluminium, says the country cannot manage the transition unless prices fall dramatically from last year’s average delivered rate of between $70 and $80 a megawatt hour.

“At those prices, switching from fossil fuel-based manufacturing processes to clean electricity-based processes is unlikely to occur,” Mr Eade says in an opinion article for The Australian Financial Review.

“The competitive disadvantage to Australian manufacturing would be too great.”