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The Federal Government has unveiled its Technology Investment Roadmap discussion paper, a strategic overview of the future of low-emission technology investments.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said the government sees enormous potential in technologies like hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, soil carbon sequestration, biofuels, resources and energy exports to reduce emissions while strengthening the economy.

“The government is committed to reducing emissions without imposing new costs on households, while at the same time growing businesses and the economy,” Mr Taylor said.

“At its core, this is about technology not taxes. It means reducing emissions, not reducing jobs and the economy. 

“It is an approach based on rigour, confidence, optimism, and Australian ingenuity not ideology.”

The government is focusing on new and emerging technologies that will: 

  • Continue supplying the affordable and reliable energy households and industry need to support jobs and the economy
  • Increase the productivity of export sectors like agriculture, energy, metals and minerals processing
  • Allow Australia to capitalise on opportunities to develop new industries and jobs
  • Position Australia to support its trading partners’ plans to reduce emissions through the export of low emissions technologies, energy and other products

“The government’s Technology Investment Roadmap is about more than just reducing emissions,” Mr Taylor said.

“This is about developing technologies that will support job growth. This is about ensuring that mums and dads and small businesses are paying a fair cost for energy and not imposing taxes on them. 

“This is about backing new industries that will help our regional communities and local economies to prosper. 

“This is about putting Australia at the forefront of research and development, and maintaining our strong track record of reducing global emissions.”

The government said that the alternative would be to sign up to long-term targets without a clear plan, an approach which may penalise energy-intensive industries and reduce economic activity. 

The roadmap may benefit international trade, with many of Australia’s trading partners reluctant to commit to policies and targets with material economic costs. 

“Australia will play its role on the global stage by partnering with other nations to accelerate technologies with high abatement potential,” Mr Taylor said.

“Reducing emissions in a way that benefits the economy of these countries is the only way to broad agreement on a way forward.

“Real action on technology, not taxes, is the pathway to increasing global ambition.”

The roadmap goals will be developed in consultation with industry, researchers and the financial sector, with progress reported through an annual Low Emissions Technology Statement.

Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said networks were looking forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth on shaping Australia’s energy transformation.

“A 21st-century energy system cannot continue to rely on 20th-century technology,” Mr Dillon said.

“How our future energy system operates goes well beyond just what will replace coal, and this paper brings to the fore many of those potential technologies.

“As the way we use technology evolves, careful investment in our transmission and distribution systems will be crucial, facilitated by measures such as the Commonwealth Government’s $1 billion Grid Reliability Fund.

“The paper highlights the contribution Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has made to technology development and how a key focus of ARENA’s work is now integrating variable renewable generation into the grid.”

The government has appointed a Ministerial Reference Panel, led by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, to support the development of the first Low Emissions Technology Statement that will be published in late-2020.

APPEA Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, agreed that the path to a lower carbon future must include investing in energy technology at home and abroad.

“The discussion paper clearly identifies the need for a system-wide appreciation of our energy requirements and that there are different roads we can take to get there,” Mr McConville said. 

“At a time when the economy is under significant pressure from the challenges associated with COVID-19, investing in cleaner energy technologies makes sense, from an emissions perspective and to strengthen our economy.”

The roadmap will be a cornerstone of Australia’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Strategy, to be released ahead of the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). 

Australian Energy Council’s Chief Executive, Sarah McNamara, said, “Dramatic falls in the price of solar have shown how technological advancements can rapidly change our approach to achieving lower emissions.

“Equally, many technologies that show early promise, such as geothermal, can just as quickly fail to progress. This underlines the need for careful consideration of the most efficient technologies, which is a strength of the approach outlined in the discussion paper.

“It is important to find the best means to reduce emissions at the lowest cost to households and the economy.”

The government will look to support a wide range of technologies with the potential to reduce emissions across sectors. Through the Technology Investment Roadmap process, clear goals will be set for the most important and prospective of these. 

Written submissions are open until Sunday 21 June 2020.

For more information, click here.

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