Government's vision for new energy technologies endorsed

The Morrison Government’s $1.9 billion new energy technology investment package has been strongly endorsed by industry and peak bodies.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Chair Justin Punch welcomed the $1.62 billion in new funding for the agency and an expanded investment focus.

“It is critically important that through agencies like ARENA, we bring to bear the most effective tools and technologies to support the clean energy transition and help Australia reduce its emissions,” Mr Punch said.

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) CEO Ian Learmonth welcomed the expanded mandate.

“The CEFC is already pursuing investment opportunities in many of these areas but an expanded mandate will enable even greater flexibility to pursue further opportunities in agriculture and manufacturing,” Mr Learmonth said.

Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott said that “by expanding the scope of ARENA and the CEFC we will encourage new low, zero and negative emissions technology in sectors like agriculture, transport and manufacturing.” 

“This will underpin our future competitiveness and position us as an energy superpower at home and in overseas markets,” Ms Westacott said.

Ai Group CEO Innes Willox said that the “$1.43 billion in baseline funding committed to ARENA over ten years is a very substantial sum and will make a big difference to manufacturing and other sectors.”

“Electricity accounts for just a third of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. As we build a new competitive advantage in clean energy, we also need practical and investable pathways for industry, transport and agriculture to decarbonise. That broader scope makes it sensible to expand the range of technologies that ARENA can consider. For instance, carbon capture, utilisation and storage is one of a handful of known options for addressing hard-to-abate industrial emissions,” Mr Willox said.

The National Farmers’ Federation said the announcement was “good news for farmers.”

The National Irrigators’ Council also welcomed the agriculture focus in the announcement. National Irrigators’ Council CEO Steve Whan said “we see the $1.62 billion injection of funding to the ARENA and the CEFC as a great opportunity to strengthen the capability of these bodies in their investment focus on technologies designed to support irrigated agriculture businesses in their energy and production solutions.”

Australian Industry Greenhouse Network CEO Susie Smith said that “removing constraints on ARENA and CEFC to enable them to utilise the full range of low, zero and negative emission technologies is a sensible approach."

Investor Group on Climate Change CEO Emma Herd said that expanding the mandate for ARENA and the CEFC could help spark fresh private sector investment.

“Expanding the functions of the ARENA and the CEFC to open up opportunities for this technology [CCUS] in other sectors can be valuable for creating opportunities for zero and negative emission technologies in harder to abate industries,” Ms Herd said.

Industry also welcomed specific measures to support the establishment of a hydrogen hub and adoption of new technologies and approaches including soil carbon, production of green steel, future fuel technologies and enhanced energy productivity.

CO2CRC Chief Executive David Byers said “the value of CCUS is its versatility as a technology. Its applications extend from natural gas processing and power generation to steel and cement production where emissions are hard to abate due to inherent process emissions and high temperature heat requirements.

"Producing clean hydrogen from fossil fuels paired with CCS also offers the most cost-effective, reliable and flexible pathway to large-scale hydrogen production. With around two-thirds of emissions in Australia coming from outside the power generation sector, technologies like CCUS with broad application across the economy, are vital to achieving long-term emissions reduction goals while maintaining Australia’s economic resilience.”

Minerals Council of Australia CEO Tania Constable said that the investment in new low-emissions technologies was a positive step.

Energy Users Association of Australia CEO Andrew Richards said that expanding the scope of ARENA and the CEFC was the right move.

“Wind and solar have been supported by ARENA and CEFC along with State and Federal Governments for 20 years and are now considered mature technologies that can stand on their own without Government assistance. We should celebrate this success and move quickly to support the next suite of technologies that will be part of the ongoing transformation of the energy sector,” said Mr Richards.

Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher said Australia has a natural competitive advantage in CCS with known high-quality, stable geological storage basins capable of injection at a rate of 300 million tonnes per annum for at least 100 years.

“Australia needs low-cost abatement to maintain our position as a leading energy exporter and manufacturer of energy-intensive materials, and to enable new industries like hydrogen,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Just as private investment in renewable energy deployment was accelerated through public policy and funding over the last two decades, we now need to focus on accelerating CCS in similar ways to achieve the scale and experience that will not only drive costs down but will also deliver real scale when it comes to emissions reduction.”

The Australian Hydrogen Council welcomed the Government’s commitment to new and emerging technologies.

“It is great to see the Government providing ARENA a guaranteed baseline funding of $1.43 billion over 10 years in addition to $193.4 million to deploy targeted programs,” said Australian Hydrogen Council CEO Dr Fiona Simon.

ClimateWorks Australia said that “we support the broader mandate for ARENA and CEFC to work across an increased number of sectors, as well as energy.”

Carbon Market Institute CEO John Connor said “the initiatives and funding announced today are important and can enhance Australia’s ability to emerge from the COVID recession with a more resilient and cleaner economy.

APPEA CEO Andrew McConville said that “at a time when the economy is under pressure from the challenges of COVID-19, investing in cleaner energy technologies makes sense, from an emissions perspective and to strengthen the economy.

Low Emissions Technology Australia CEO Mark McCallum said “we hear a lot of commentary calling for leaders to ‘listen to the science’ and the government’s announcement today shows it’s doing that and is serious about a technology-neutral approach to emissions reduction.

Among others, the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Australian Hotels Association (AHA), NRMA, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), Property Council of Australia, Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), EDL Energy, Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), Clean Energy Council, Beyond Zero Emissions, Energy Efficiency Council and Citizens’ Climate Lobby Australia also welcomed the announcement.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120