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Doorstop at the launch of the AGN Australian Hydrogen Centre with James Stevens MP, Member for Sturt

21 February 2020

Subject: Hydrogen, energy storage and emissions targets.

E&OE

JAMES STEVENS: It's been fantastic to have Minister Taylor here this morning, launching the Australian Hydrogen Centre here in South Australia. Hydrogen is going to be such an important technology for us into the future as we address the important dual-challenge of reducing carbon emissions, but also making sure that we still have affordable electricity so that our economy doesn't suffer through that process. Minister Taylor, thank you so much for being here morning.

ANGUS TAYLOR: Thank you, James. It's great to be with you, and James of course, the Member for Sturt, a great enthusiast, not just for South Australia and this region, but also, of course, for clean energy and ensuring that we can reduce emissions whilst maintaining a strong economy. That is what the Australian Hydrogen Centre is all about. There is a very significant commitment from the Australian Government to hydrogen. We've committed over $500 million, following up from the announcement for the National Hydrogen Strategy late last year alongside my COAG colleagues. Fantastic initiative, focused on ensuring that as a Government, we deliver lower emissions whilst maintaining a strong economy. This is technology, not taxes. Australians are endlessly ingenious at solving hard problems. That's what we're doing, and we're doing it in a way which is going to maintain jobs, maintain industries, maintain the strength of the Australian economy, and of course the South Australian economy, which is why I'm here today.

JOURNALIST: Minister, what do you make of the technology that's being trialled here in Adelaide compared to things you're seeing elsewhere in the country?

ANGUS TAYLOR: This is an extremely important innovation. What we're seeing here is putting hydrogen into the gas network, up to 10 per cent, to get that to work and then we can look at how we get more hydrogen in beyond that. Now, what's so important about hydrogen is it is stored clean energy. It's there when you want it. Solar and wind, the cost is coming down dramatically, but it's not always there when you want it. Hydrogen ensures that we have the energy there when it's needed for industry, for small business, for households, and for ensuring that with low cost, clean energy available, which is so crucial for jobs in energy-intensive industries, and of course small businesses, like restaurants, cafes, laundromats - you name it - energy is enormously important to our economy.

QUESTION: Where does storage fit into all of this? You touched on it just there, but just how important is this type of technology?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Storage is the key. We know we have the cost of energy coming down with solar cells on peoples' roofs. One in four Australians with solar cells on their roofs. Storage is still the cost, the problem that we have to solve. Batteries can play a role, and they're doing that in South Australia. But we know we need storage that is there for heavy industry - that can be there to ensure that we've got the energy when it's needed. That's where hydrogen has an enormously important role to play. We've also announced alongside this today an investment in producing ammonia, clean ammonia, and hydrogen in the Pilbara for fertiliser. That's another area where there's an enormous opportunity, and hydrogen can play a very, very important role.

JOURNALIST:  Not sure on the timing of this, if it's happened or not, but we know pre-emptively at least that the Opposition leader is announcing a commitment to a net zero emissions target by 2050. What do you make of that?

ANGUS TAYLOR: He has told us that their election policies that they went to at the last election with were a mistake. He has said they are a mistake - having unfunded, unplanned targets is a mistake. Now he's doing it again. He's doing it all over again. What he's putting forward is a target without a plan, without funding. We put forward targets we know we can achieve. We commit to those targets. We meet and beat them. We have a plan laid out to the last tonne, every last dollar, for how we're going to achieve our 2030 targets as we overachieve by 411 million tonnes - almost a year's worth of emissions reductions for our 2020 targets. We simply won't go down the path of supporting targets which are unfunded and unplanned.

JOURNALIST:  Minister, your alternative - the technology investment target - can you explain that and how exactly would that work?

ANGUS TAYLOR: Well it's very simple. Technology will reduce emissions in the coming years as it's been reducing emissions in recent years. Australians have achieved extraordinary outcomes. In 2012, when Labor left government, they forecast that with their carbon tax emissions would be 100 million tonnes higher this year, almost 20 per cent higher this year than they actually are. Why? Because Australians are using technology to reduce emissions. Solar on their roofs. Farmers changing their land management practices. Energy efficiency across heavy industry, small business, and households. We know how to use technology. We've got to develop new technologies like hydrogen, make them work. Get them out into the marketplace, reducing emissions in agriculture, in manufacturing, in transport. It's technology, not taxes. That's how we'll do it, and that's our focus. The Technology Investment Roadmap is all about laying out how we use those technologies to reduce emissions not just through to 2030, but beyond in the decades beyond 2030.

JOURNALIST: Is the focus on technology, though, sidestepping the environmental issues here?

ANGUS TAYLOR: No. It is actually how you solve the problem. It is how humans have solved problems for centuries. We're going to do it again and we are doing it. So it is the solution to the problem. It's a focus on achieving outcomes. What we're here to talk about today is not an unfunded, unplanned target - we're here to talk about specific initiatives that will deliver reducing emissions whilst maintaining a strong economy. That's what we're all about.

JOURNALIST:  Is the Government even considering this net zero target by 2050?

ANGUS TAYLOR: We are very focused on how we'll reduce emissions to meet and beat our targets for 2030, but also use technologies to reduce emissions through to 2050. I mean, that's our practical focus on initiatives that will deliver not unfunded, un-costed targets. We saw Labor go to the last election with exactly that policy. Anthony Albanese has described that as a mistake. Days later, he's doing it again.

JOURNALIST:  So that's a no for now?

ANGUS TAYLOR: I'm very clear on this - our focus is a long-term strategy that's focused on deploying technologies, developing technologies that will reduce emissions while maintaining a strong economy.