Can construction handle a $20 billion renewable energy boom?

Jarrod Brown
By Jarrod Brown
4 Min Read

Australia’s net zero 2030 targets are set to spark a 20 billion dollar boom in construction funding in the near future. 

According to a new report by industry forecast company Macromonitor, renewable energy projects will be the single largest contributor to growth in construction until 2026.

In the report titled The Renewable Energy Construction Outlook for Australia, Macromonitor economist and author Abdul Hannan found that renewable construction had already shot up from $4 billion in 2021 to about $10 billion in 2023. 

Hannan expects the industry will likely see that number climb even higher to $20 billion in 2026-2027, with the extra $10 billion outstripping funding for any other sector in construction.

“As well as generation construction, huge investment in storage and transmission systems is also expected over the next five years, which will be the key period for Australia’s energy transition,” he said.

Hannan expects New South Wales work sites to be leading the renewable surge as the state gears up to replace its coal-fired power plants in the 2026 financial year. 

In 2022, NSW was responsible for half of renewable energy construction activities and is slated to host almost a third of all renewable energy construction work being done in the country. 

Spending on solar construction is also expected to peak in 2025 at $2.7 billion, followed by a slight decline to about $2.5 billion over five years, on the back of long-awaited projects like the $5.6 billion Australian Renewable Energy Hub in Western Australia.

But where will we find the workers?

However, while the renewable project pipeline has never been more secure, the demand for tradies needed to make these builds happen is also expected to soar.

A report commissioned by the federal government found that Australia will need at least 200,000 more people in clean economy jobs by 2030, or the government risk missing its net zero targets altogether for the decade. 

The Jobs and Skills report also estimates that at least two million new jobs are required to meet the government’s net zero emissions by 2050 goal.

In response to the dwindling workforce figures, the federal Australian government has committed $91 million in last month’s budget over five years to help skill Australia’s clean energy workforce.

This will include $50 million earmarked for expanding clean energy training across wind, solar, pumped hydro, grid battery storage, electricity networks and hydrogen, as well as key electrical and construction trades, and $30 million to turbocharge the development of teachers to train the workforce.

The government has also adjusted the eligibility settings of the New Energy Apprenticeships Program so more apprentices can receive up to $10,000 to help with cost-of-living pressures.

The types of apprenticeships eligible for the $10,000 assistance package will include designing and constructing hydroelectricity, solar and battery installations, and electric vehicle maintenance.

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Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.