PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The federal Parliament has supported reforms to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to support the next generation of low emissions technologies.
Under an expanded remit, ARENA is now able to support a broader range of technologies to advance the priorities of the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap, which identified five priority new and emerging technologies for government investment, including clean hydrogen, long duration energy storage, low carbon materials including aluminium and steel, carbon capture and storage (CCS), and new measurement technologies for healthier soils.
To achieve this goal, the government will invest A$20-billion in new energy technologies by 2030, to drive at least A$80-billion of total public and private investment over the decade. This investment will support at least 160 000 new jobs.
The regulatory change also allows ARENA to implement A$192.5-million of programmes in the 2020/21 Budget, including A$67.9-million to support heavy vehicle fuel efficiency and industrial energy efficiency, A$71.9-million to support hydrogen and electric vehicle infrastructure as part of the government’s Future Fuels Fund, and A$52.6-million to support microgrids for regional Australia.
These programmes are estimated to create 1 400 direct and indirect jobs and support more affordable and reliable power in regional Australia, new transport infrastructure and increase the competitiveness of energy-intensive industries.
Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said this week that expanding ARENA’s remit to unlock the transformative low emissions technologies that businesses need was a recommendation of the King Review.
“We look forward to getting on with the job, including supporting ARENA’s expanded role into energy efficiency, hydrogen, carbon capture technologies, energy storage for renewables, soil carbon technology and emissions reduction technologies for aluminium and steel,” the Minister said.
The Parliamentary approval has been welcomed by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea), which said that expanding the investment remit of ARENA would help Australia reach net zero emissions.
“All technology, including hydrogen and CCS, should be on the table to help reduce emissions. Supporting these common sense measures demonstrates support for practical steps to reduce emissions and help the environment,” Appea CEO Andrew McConville said.
“Just as government investment in renewables has fast-tracked projects, this will do the same and create thousands of jobs in the process.
“The global oil and gas industry is leading the world in the practical deployment of CCS and hydrogen. In Australia, the oil and gas industry has been at the leading edge of researching and deploying CCS and greenhouse gas storage technologies.
“Natural gas with CCS is a pathway to a large-scale clean hydrogen industry. Australia’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) export success means the Australian upstream oil and gas industry has the technology, expertise, commercial and trade relationships to make, in particular, hydrogen exports a reality.
“Developing a local hydrogen industry could enable lower emissions both in Australia and internationally, reduce energy costs, deliver energy security, together with delivering new employment and manufacturing opportunities.”
The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has also said that ARENA’s expanded regulations to stand will significantly benefit Australia’s decarbonisation efforts.
“ARENA’s ability to focus on emission reduction technologies for aluminium and steel, CCS, clean hydrogen, energy storage and soil carbon will give the agency renewed impetus in supporting a pragmatic approach to delivering real emissions reductions,” MCA CEO Tania Constable said.
“It is also consistent with the Australian minerals industry’s advocacy for all technologies to be considered in meeting the challenge of lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”
Constable said that ARENA had become a vital institution in Australia’s efforts to drive emissions reduction and combat climate change.
“Its expanded mandate adds important arrows into the agency’s quiver and further consolidates it in Australia’s climate change institutional architecture with additional scope.
“The mining industry continues to support the Paris Agreement and its goal of net zero emissions and sees this development as supporting that effort accordingly.”