5 Aug 2022
The Project defining renewables revolution
GEELONG’S manufacturing past is embedded in the city’s
Once one of the largest hubs in Australia, key local leaders say
the city’s adaptable history could hold the key to its future.
According to a report by Ironbark Sustainability, released last
year, the region could grow more than 24,000 new green energy
jobs in sectors ranging from renewable energy generation,
manufacturing and electric transport in only five years.
More than half of those jobs were across construction and
renewable energy and its transmission.
Geelong – whose role as a central hub for shipping and rail in
the 1860s earned it the nickname Pivot City – could be on the
cusp of its next big industrial leap. This week, the federal
government locked in support to put Australia on track for a 43
per cent emissions reduction by 2030, with Climate Change
Minister Chris Bowen making it clear the legislation was a
“floor, not a ceiling” for reductions.
“This legislation is sending the message and I’m delighted that
business and renewable groups and climate groups have
welcomed so strongly the indications this will now pass the
parliament,” Mr Bowen said this week.
Labor’s Powering Australia policy also outlined a plan to boost
the share of renewables in the National Energy Market to 82 per
cent. G21 chief executive Giulia Baggio said the region’s
manufacturing history put it in a prime position to take a
leading role in the transition to renewables.
“It’s in the city’s DNA,” Ms Baggio said. “Geelong has a very
deep, long history of industry and manufacturing.
“We’ve already undergone the transition out of heavy
manufacturing 10-15 years ago, so the city knows how to
transition into new industry.”
A number of green projects, such as Moorabool’s Big Battery,
are under way, while a massive wind farm at Rokewood has
been approved by the state government.
An expanding investment at Deakin University has led the way
for a $50m trailblazer fund to help develop green
manufacturing and the development of new and sustainable
technology at the university’s Geelong Future Economy
Deakin research innovation executive director Ross Mahon said
the future economy precinct could create up to 2000 jobs within
“We will create significant new technologies that will position
Deakin and Geelong for the future as well as creating significant
employment within the area,” Mr Mahon said.
Clean Energy Resources, which partnered with Deakin, is
working to divert waste from landfill with a “mission to process
waste with zero emissions”.
With new technology, the company will take end-of-life tyres
and put them through a regasification process where it can
create hydrogen and baseload electricity.
“CER harnesses a range of existing and proven technologies
from around the world to deliver a methodology that is
completely closed loop, recirculates and re-uses gases that
would normally escape as part of the process,” director Steve
Horvat said. “We are able to achieve our vision of zero emissions, zero waste, zero landfill and 100 per cent reusable, beneficial by-products.”
With the company looking to expand into municipal waste, Mr
Mahon said a Geelong solution could wind up helping many
“It’s dealing with a huge issue for Australia, because we can no
end-of-life tyres offshore, and stockpiling them has created
tyre fires in the past,” he said. “And it’s only a stepping stone
for this company, because the next thing that they want to
address after that is commingled plastic waste.”
The City of Greater Geelong last year committed to net zero
emissions by 2035, with its climate plan aiming for “a zero-
emissions, climate-ready city and region”. Surf Coast, Colac-
Otway and Golden Plains shires and the Borough of Queenscliffe
have implemented similar strategies.
At a community level, Geelong Sustainability helped kickstart
feasibility studies for community batteries and set up a
revolving fund to help businesses cut energy bills and reduce
A number of major regional players have announced plans to
invest in hydrogen. A Geelong hydrogen technology cluster was
announced last year as part of a national network aimed at
establishing Australia as a global leader.
Last year, GeelongPort announced plans for a $100m green
hydrogen production and distribution hub, while Viva Energy
presented plans for the nation’s first commercial, green
hydrogen vehicle refuelling station.
“Our truck fleets in Australia pretty much run on diesel,” Ms
“Converting that to green hydrogen will really cut a lot of
emissions out of the atmosphere, and we’ve already got a lot of
major players working on it. With the region in a prime position to take advantage of new
technologies, local leaders have called for more clarity and
assistance in the transition to clean energy.
For Geelong Sustainability president Vicki Perrett, the push to
renewable energy must be inclusive and affordable for
“The focus must be to decarbonise, localise and equalise,” Ms
“Our region does have homeowners and householders who are
at a significant disadvantage, and this must be a transition for
She called on the federal government to provide a cohesive
national plan for transitioning the nation in an equitable
“A bit like the national cabinet got together and planned during
Covid, that needs to continue on the energy front,” she said.
“We need a nationwide approach.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Ms Baggio, who said greater
investment in the market needed to feature a blend of
government and private sector contributions.
“That’s the framework that’s a bit weak at the moment,” she
“We’ve been looking for that national direction that really gives
certainty and investment into driving clean energy markets
“When you look at our region, which has all the
pieces we need to put
together, a national framework will help all of that come
together much more quickly and open the gate to international
players who might be looking for opportunities here as well.”
Government efforts to rewire Australia’s national energy grid
were also seen as crucial.
In recent months, the Geelong community has debated
controversial proposals such as the Viva floating gas terminal
and the Lara waste-to-energy plant.
With Australia’s climate targets almost locked and loaded, Ms
Perrett said the time to cut emissions was now.
“We’re halfway through 2022,” she said.
“We have got to be at least halving our emissions this decade,
and they’re not going down at all, so there’s a lot of work to be
Mr Bowen was contacted for comment.