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Remarks at the Smart Energy Council Conference and Exhibition

Canberra

13 May 2021

E&OE

ANGUS TAYLOR: It’s terrific to see the smart energy community come together to connect and share ideas.  

Australia is already a leader in this space. 

One in four Australian homes now have solar panels on their roof – the highest rate of uptake of household solar in the world. 

More than $35 billion has been invested in Australia’s renewable energy sector since 2017.  

And, in 2020, Australia deployed renewables at eight times the global per capita average, and four times the OECD per capita average. 

And the Government is supporting the development of new energy technologies that will help to bring down costs for households and businesses, boost reliability, and meet our emissions obligations. 

We have made it clear that we will meet and exceed our emissions reduction commitments without imposing additional costs on households, businesses or the economy.  

That’s what technology, not taxes means - because energy consumers are at the heart of the Government’s approach to energy policy.  

We have seen 19 straight months of year-on-year declines in wholesale electricity prices, from September 2019 through to the end of March this year, with quarterly prices at their lowest levels in nine years.  

And household electricity costs across Australia are now 11.2 per cent lower than they were a year ago. 

Consumers can’t afford for governments to put their heads in the sand and ignore the challenges created by the rapid shift to intermittent generation. 

That is why, with the significant changes underway in our electricity system, we are committed to reforms that are in the best interest of energy consumers.  

These reforms are necessary to ensure that as the share of renewables continues to grow at pace in our system, consumers continue to have access to lowest cost, reliable power. 

We need balance.

We need to ensure that renewables are complemented by sufficient reliable generation like gas, pumped hydro, batteries and, as we look to the future, hydrogen.  

We need transmission projects that are value for money and consumers are the beneficiaries. 

But where there are challenges, there are also opportunities.  

Opportunities for technologies that can integrate growing levels of solar PV and other distributed energy resources securely into our grid. 

Opportunities for technologies that enable demand side participation, and opportunities to bring down the costs of long duration storage technologies, and of course, hydrogen.  

It is important all governments cooperate to deliver the market reforms that consumers need.  

Beyond market design, the Commonwealth is already working with state and territory governments to deliver affordable and reliable energy to consumers, while achieving emissions reductions in line with the 2030 Paris target.  

We are negotiating 10-year bilateral agreements or ‘State Deals’ with each jurisdiction on energy and emissions reductions.  

We signed our first State Deal with NSW in January 2020, worth $1.97 billion.   

Through the deal the Government committed $960 million over 10 years. 

Funding will help large emission sources transition their plant, equipment and other assets to low emissions technologies. 

In December we signed another deal with Tasmania, committing $93.9 million to support a Final Investment Decision on the Marinus Link interconnector, which follows an earlier $56 million grant. 

This will help unlock new renewable energy investment through the Battery of the Nation pumped hydro initiative.   

In April, the Prime Minister announced the third State Deal, this time with South Australia.  

As part of that $1.08 billion deal, the Government has committed to provide $660 million to South Australia, including $400 million for investment in low emissions technology priorities like hydrogen and charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. 

The Government has also agreed to allocate up to $110 million for solar thermal and other energy storage projects in South Australia.  

Under the State Deals ‘umbrella’, the Government has also announced $30 million through the 2021-22 Budget for a big battery and microgrids in the Northern Territory.

This builds on a $28.5 million commitment to Western Australia for a big battery and microgrids in last year’s budget.  

As I said at the outset, the Australian Government highly values smart energy technology, and we are committed to investing in solutions that will lower emissions while boosting jobs and the economy. 

The examples I’ve outlined today are just a snapshot of the investments we’re making in smart energy solutions, all of which will help bring down costs for households and businesses, improve reliability, and meet our emissions obligations. 

One of the most exciting aspects of smart energy is the opportunity it provides for us a nation. We have bright, motivated people who can contribute a great deal in this area. 

And that’s what makes events like this, featuring the latest technology, so crucial. 

Thank you again for allowing me to be part of your conference and exhibition, and I wish you all the best for the remainder of the event.  

ENDS