Energy policy comes full circle. The Prime Minister revealed gas as the transition fuel to a renewable future in January 2020.
In September, the Government pre-empted the significant investment they are making in the upcoming Federal Budget – not only to create a new energy future for the country, but to encourage innovation and create jobs of the future.
With a recession and tectonic shifts in consumer demand and employment opportunities, it’s become even more imperative that we embrace a new way forward.
The Government states they are technology agnostic and that they will not hinge their hopes on one kind of energy generation for the future. Having said this, hydrogen has presented itself as a major opportunity for Australia – both as a domestic energy source as well as an exportable commodity.
The technology roadmap has highlighted short, medium and long-term goals on our transition away from coal. To combat the irregularity of weather-dependent energy generation, there is a clear focus on storage. Batteries aren’t yet economical, however there are lessons that can be learnt from the pumped hydro facility in South Australia to support greater storage capabilities.
Pleasingly, there is an investment in the “poles and wires” infrastructure that carries our power. Much of it is ageing and not designed to carry fluctuating energy loads which we can come to expect from renewable sources.
Net-zero emissions by 2050 are absolutely achievable under the technology road map set to be released this week, Scott Morrison says, but the government will not firmly commit to the target. It’s expected the roadmap will support 130,000 jobs by 2030 and avoid 250 million tonnes of emissions in Australia by 2040.
What’s in the new $1.9b new energy technology package?
- $1.43b guaranteed baseline funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest in new projects, as well as expanding the focus of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Future Corporation to back technologies to cut emissions in agriculture, manufacturing, industry and transport.
- $95.4m for a new Technology Co-Investment Fund to support businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors to adopt technologies that increase productivity and reduce emissions.
- $74.5m for a new Future Fuels Fund to help businesses and regional communities take advantage of opportunities offered by hydrogen, electric, and bio-fuelled vehicles.
- $70.2m to setting up a hydrogen export hub to scale-up demand.
- $67m for new microgrids in regional and remote communities.
- $52.2m to increase the energy productivity of homes and businesses, including a sector specific grant program for hotels supporting equipment and facilities upgrades.
- $50m investment in the Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund to pilot carbon capture projects.
- $40.2m to boost energy and emissions data and cyber-security reporting and supporting the delivery of future Low Emissions Technology Statements under the Technology Investment Roadmap process.
- $24.6m to implement recommendations from the King Review into the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), including a commitment to reduce the time taken to develop new ERF methods from 24 months to less than 12 months.
We are pleased to see the commitment of additional – and significant funding to ARENA, as well as the steer from Government on which sectors that need the most support through the development of low emissions technologies.
A national policy – one which disparate States and Territories can all buy into – has been the missing piece to consistently affordable energy regardless of where you live. The focus on emerging technologies and carbon capture is an opportunity for Australia that has been untapped up until now. A cohesive policy will no doubt also give investors and energy companies’ confidence in their future developments. Now we wait to see how it will be implemented.