Thursday, 17 September 2020 13:26

Government to invest $1.9 billion in new, emerging technologies Featured

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The Federal Government is investing $1.9 billion in new and emerging technologies as part of an investment package it says will support jobs, strengthen the economy and reduce energy emissions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the $1.9 billion investment package in future technologies to lower emissions would “back jobs now and into the future, cut costs for households and improve the reliability of our energy supply”.

The investment package announced by the Government on Thursday includes an extra $1.62 billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest, as well as expanding the focus of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to back new technologies that will cut emissions in agriculture, manufacturing, industry and transport.

“Our JobMaker plan is about protecting and creating the jobs of today and positioning Australia for the jobs of the future, which is why our investment in new technologies is so crucial,” the Prime Minister said.

“Australia is in the midst of a world-leading boom in renewable energy with over $30 billion invested since 2017. Solar panels and wind farms are now clearly commercially viable and have graduated from the need for government subsidies and the market has stepped up to invest.

“The Government will now focus its efforts on the next challenge: unlocking new technologies across the economy to help drive down costs, create jobs, improve reliability and reduce emissions. This will support our traditional industries – manufacturing, agriculture, transport – while positioning our economy for the future.

“These investments create jobs and they bring new technologies into play. This will not only cut emissions, but deliver the reliable energy Australia needs while driving down prices for homes and businesses.”

The new investment package also invests in a range of what the Government says are “promising low-emissions, reliable new technology advancements” including:

  • Supporting businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors to adopt technologies that increase productivity and reduce emissions through a new $95.4 million Technology Co-Investment Fund that was recommended by the King Review
  • Piloting carbon capture projects that will dramatically help cut emissions with a $50 million investment in the Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund
  • Helping businesses and regional communities take advantage of opportunities offered by hydrogen, electric, and bio-fuelled vehicles with a new $74.5 million Future Fuels Fund
  • Setting up a hydrogen export hub worth $70.2 million to scale-up demand and take advantage of the advancements in this low emissions, high powered source of energy
  • Backing new microgrids in regional and remote communities to deliver affordable, reliable power with $67 million
  • Contributing $52.2 million to increase the energy productivity of homes and businesses, including a sector specific grant program for hotels supporting equipment and facilities upgrades
  • Slashing the time taken to develop new Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) methods from 24 months or more to less than 12 months, involving industry in a co-design process and implementing other recommendations from the King Review into the ERF, worth $24.6 million
  • Boosting energy and emissions data and cyber-security reporting and supporting the delivery of future Low Emissions Technology Statements under the Technology Investment Roadmap process, as well as developing an offshore clean energy project development framework, together worth $40.2 million

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said “getting the next generation of energy technologies right would not only help to keep prices low and the lights on, but would importantly grow jobs, strengthen the economy and reduce emissions”.

“We will reduce the cost of new and emerging technologies, not raise the cost of existing technologies or layer in new costs to consumers and businesses through mandated targets or subsidies,” Minister Taylor said.

“The Government recognises the strong growth in emerging energy technologies that will play a role in Australia’s energy mix into the future. We need to get the balance right and our investment to re-energise ARENA will deliver that.

“ARENA has played an important role in this growth, and as the cost of renewable technologies has fallen dramatically, the Government is investing in the future of ARENA to support the next generation of energy technologies.”

The Government says its emissions reduction strategy is focussed on technology not taxes - and “an approach that doesn’t compromise energy affordability or reliability will be more important than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Under the investment plans announced by the Government it will provide ARENA with guaranteed baseline funding of $1.43 billion over 10 years, and ARENA’s baseline funding will be supplemented in two ways:

1. Together with the Clean Energy Regulator, ARENA will be approved to deploy a portion of the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund; and
2. ARENA will also become a clean technology grants hub for future initiatives, with a new $193.4 million provided to deploy targeted programs.

The Government says the Boards of ARENA and CEFC will continue to be accountable for individual investment decisions, and it will introduce new legislation so both agencies can support new and emerging low emissions technologies (including zero and negative emissions technologies).

“That ensures they will be able to support critical technologies such as soil‑carbon sequestration, carbon capture and storage, production of green-steel, and industrial processes to reduce energy consumption,” the Government said.

“This package will contribute to Australia’s continued success in meeting and beating our emissions reduction targets. Australia beat its Kyoto-era targets by up to 430 million tonnes and the Government is on track to meet and beat our 2030 Paris target.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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