International energy giants look to kickstart new era in Australian manufacturing


Canadian investment giant Brookfield, which is currently in the process of formally acquiring Origin Energy, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with India’s Reliance Industries to explore opportunities for manufacturing of clean energy equipment in Australia.

“Under the terms of the MoU, Brookfield will work with Reliance to explore avenues of direct capital investment and development of skills, knowledge and expertise in the renewable energy sector of Australia to facilitate the nation’s transition to a net zero future,” the companies said in a joint statement.

“The MoU aims to both accelerate and de-risk Australia’s energy transition by enabling it to locally produce clean energy equipment such as PV modules, long-duration battery storage and components for wind energy.”

Reliance has strong expertise in solar panel technology and long duration battery storage technology. It is currently in the process of setting up one of the world’s largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in India.

Brookfield announced only last month that it, along with it partners in renewable energy projects, will invest up to $30 billion (USD 19.86 billion) in Australia over the next 10 years.

The Canadian company, which along with its consortium partners has lodged an estimated $18.7 billion takeover bid for Origin, says it plans to develop up to 14 GW of new renewable generation and storage assets within the Origin Energy business by 2033.

The Reliance-Brookfield partnership intends to support that investment, the companies said.

“Reliance and Brookfield will evaluate the establishment of advanced operations in Australia to make/or assemble equipment used in the construction of renewable energy projects supplying equipment to all players in the market including Origin Energy Markets,” they said.

Luke Edwards, head of Brookfield’s renewable division in Australia, said the nation’s energy, which includes a target of 82% renewables in the main grid by 2032, offers an opportunity to deliver a new era in local manufacturing.

“Australia has a proud history of manufacturing and an abundance of raw materials, but the industry is not currently cost-competitive,” he said. “The energy transition creates an opportunity to bring advanced manufacturing processes created offshore to Australia, which would secure the supply of critical equipment for the transition to help drive down Australia’s emissions faster and contribute significantly to job creation.”

“We want to help kickstart a new era in local manufacturing that will benefit domestic renewables developers, including Origin Energy Markets, and many communities around Australia.”

Edwards said Brookfield is looking to establish these manufacturing partnerships “as quickly as possible” with market analysis indicating the establishment of onshore manufacturing capability for the energy transition has the potential to create about 18,000 jobs.

Brookfield expects many of the jobs will be created in regions most impacted by the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, including the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and the La Trobe Valley in Victoria.

For Reliance, the MoU continues the company’s expansion beyond the petrochemical sector to businesses in retail, telecommunications, and clean energy.

Led by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Reliance is currently developing one of the world’s largest integrated renewable energy manufacturing facilities in India, including gigafactories for PV panels, energy storage, hydrogen electrolysers and fuel cells.

Ambani said the company’s 10 GW solar cell and module factory is set to commence production by 2024. The company plans to increase the facility’s capacity to 20 GW by 2026 and is also targeting 50 GWh annual cell-to-pack battery manufacturing capacity by 2027.

“At Reliance, we are firmly committed to the mission of creating a global clean energy ecosystem that is both beneficial to humanity and compatible with nature,” he said. “Towards this end, Reliance is pursuing opportunities of investment in India and globally with great enthusiasm and passion.”

“We are confident that Reliance and Brookfield will explore avenues in green energy in Australia, accelerating the nation’s transition to a net zero future and providing a fillip to the global green energy movement.”

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