The Federal Government has unveiled its long-awaited “technology investment roadmap” setting out Australia’s energy priorities as it seeks to bring down carbon emissions over the next 30 years.
- More than 140 technologies including hydrogen, renewables, biofuels and carbon capture and storage were given consideration
- Australia has flexibility in using natural gas energy as the world’s largest LNG exporter
- Nuclear power was acknowledged for its potential, but cost and environmental factors had to be considered
Energy Minister Angus Taylor released a discussion paper which he said would help to drive investments in low-emissions technologies without putting extra pressure on the economy.
“We’ve got a very clear focus, it’s about developing technologies that will bring down emissions and support jobs growth in critical industries like agriculture, manufacturing, transport,” Mr Taylor said.
“It’s about ensuring that mums and dads and small businesses are paying a fair cost for energy and not having taxes imposed on them.”
The paper examined more than 140 technologies including hydrogen, renewables, biofuels and carbon capture and storage, which involves burying emissions underground.
It said while solar and wind were the cheapest forms of generation, reliability was still an issue and gas would play an important part in “balancing” renewable energy sources.
“Flexible gas capacity will continue to play a crucial role in supporting variable renewable energy, alongside continuing growth in energy storage, demand management and innovative grid technologies as alternatives,” it said.
“As the world’s largest LNG [liquefied natural gas] exporter, all of these factors will have implications for Australia’s domestic gas market and export opportunities over the long term.”
The document said Australia was well placed to develop a major hydrogen export sector and reinforced a previously announced goal of producing it at below $2 per kilogram, the point at which it said it would become competitive.
It also said that over the long-term there should be investment in building new “export-facing” industries such as a carbon capture and storage, a controversial technology which Mr Taylor said had “great potential” in the industrial sector.
The paper described emerging nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors as having “potential” but said cost, environmental and social factors would determine whether they would go ahead.
Long-term strategy still to be released
The discussion paper is open for feedback until June 21 and Mr Taylor said he would make a statement outlining the roadmap’s goals by the end of September.
The minister said a long-term emissions reduction strategy would then be released ahead of the COP26 climate talks, which were postponed due to COVID-19.
The Government has faced pressure to adopt a target of achieving zero net emissions by 2050 but Mr Taylor said it did not “commit to targets without a very clear plan.”
“There’s a joint commitment from the countries of the world to try and reduce emissions as early as possible in the second half of the century,” he said.
“I mean we’d all love it to happen before the second half of the century. But what’s going to make that possible is successful development of technologies that allow us to reduce emissions without destroying jobs and without hurting economies.”