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Towers to be built by Australia or China?: Weld Australia

Weld Australia wants one question answered by the Australian Government on the manufacturing of wind and transmission towers.

Weld Australia wants one question answered by the Australian Government: will wind and transmission towers be manufactured locally in Australia, or offshored to China (again)?

Weld Australia has called upon the Federal Government to provide a clear and immediate public response regarding the manufacture of wind and transmission towers.

“The transition to renewable energy is paramount for Australia’s future, yet the foundational infrastructure for this transition—wind and transmission towers—remains neglected. Despite extensive lobbying and clear communication from industry leaders, the Australian Government has no concrete action or investment plan,” CEO of Weld Australia, Geoff Crittenden said.

“For well over two years, industry leaders have been asking the Australian Government for a decisive plan to build these essential structures domestically. Instead, what we have received are vague promises and unspecified funding allocations. It’s time for the Australian Government to make a commitment: will these towers be built in Australia, or are we outsourcing this vital work to China?”

SEE ALSO: Weld Australia launches free online safety courses

Weld Australia commends the programs outlined in the 2024 Federal Budget. This includes the expansion of the Capacity Investment Scheme that will unlock over $65 billion worth of investment in renewables by 2030.

It also includes the much-anticipated Future Made in Australia Innovation Fund that will deliver $1.7 billion to power new ‘green’ industries.

“The problem is: the federal government’s planned investments are earmarked for solar power, batteries and hydrogen projects. All these renewable energy technologies are long-term solutions that will come to fruition in 10 to 20 years’ time. We need a much more immediate solution. We need wind towers erected now. The Australian Government must stop prevaricating,” said Crittenden.

“The Australian Government’s recent $1 billion investment in the Solar Sunshot program must be replicated in wind tower manufacturing. The domestic demand for wind towers over coming decades is huge—we need at least 6,000 wind towers nation-wide. Based on Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) scenarios, the market could range from $20 billion anywhere up to $80 billion.”

“The sheer scale of wind and transmission tower manufacturing in Australia will require significant investment in plant and equipment. This investment is not only about building infrastructure but also about creating jobs and ensuring the long-term sustainability of our manufacturing sector,” said Crittenden.

Timing and Urgency

According to Weld Australia, at least half of the remaining 14 coal generators on the eastern seaboard are set to close within the next decade. State governments are increasingly nervous that not enough new renewable energy generators, storage projects, and transmission lines are being built to keep power supplies and prices stable.

Just last week, the New South Wales Government announced that it will pay Origin Energy up to $450 million over the next two years to extend the life of Australia’s largest coal-fired power station, Eraring, into 2027.

This decision follows a 10-year forecast by AEMO that highlighted an increased risk of blackouts in NSW due to the slow rollout of renewable projects. The Victorian Government has already intervened to ensure two of its biggest coal generators do not shut prematurely.

Australia’s great energy transition – from fossil fuels to renewables – is not going well.

For example, Project EnergyConnect, a new 900km transmission line to allow for future connections from renewable energy sources is currently 12 months behind schedule. Similarly, commissioning of the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone Link in New South Wales has also been pushed out by 12 months—to August 2028.

“Having met with the Australian coal fired power industry, all their engineers have contingency plans in place to extend the life of their plants. It is almost a foregone conclusion that the coal fired power plants will have to be maintained to ensure the delivery of consistent, reliable power to the Australian public—Australia’s renewables transition is nowhere near ready,” Crittenden said.

Weld Australia demands transparency from the Australian Government:

  • Will wind and transmission tower manufacturing be undertaken in Australia?
  • What are the concrete steps and timelines?
  • Who will be responsible for making these decisions?

“This is not a state issue—states should not bear the responsibility for funding these large-scale industrial projects. It’s a national priority that should have been addressed well over two years ago. The Australian Government must take immediate action to start these projects and provide the necessary funding or—at the very least—the confidence for local manufacturers to invest in their facilities,” Crittenden said.

“The rhetoric of green energy and renewable investments is meaningless without the real work and real jobs that come with building the necessary infrastructure. Industry needs tangible answers, a definitive delivery plan and real investment for wind towers—and we need them now.”

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