Australia Government's technology investment roadmap finds unlikely backing from former ARENA boss

00:11  23 september  2020
00:11  23 september  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Funding for the government ’ s bn technology roadmap includes investments from Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian While the government last week earmarked m for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects when it unveiled a planned reboot of Arena , the roadmap

Creating a technology roadmap will help you to align your IT projects with your strategy and define As an indication, BDC’ s Industry 4.0 report surveyed Canadian manufacturers and found that they had The investment required can vary significantly depending on the size of your company, your

The Federal Government's new energy plan has been slammed by Labor, some green groups and even members of the Coalition, but cautiously welcomed by a leading renewables investor who until recently chaired the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Martijn Wilder chaired the taxpayer-funded ARENA for more than four years, before he was unexpectedly not reappointed this year by the Coalition Government, which replaced him with investment banker Justin Punch.

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The proposal to parliament follows an earlier recommendation by the Norwegian central bank, the fund' s manager, and could add investments of billion in "The changes we are proposing will ensure the investments better represent the distribution of value creation in listed companies globally," Minister

However, Mr Wilder said there are many positives to be found in the Government's new Technology Investment Roadmap.

"The technology roadmap identifies a number of critical areas that are required to drive the economy toward net zero [emissions], particularly the focus on green hydrogen, batteries and decarbonising industry," he told ABC's The Business.

"The roadmap is an important step forward in identifying key areas of focus for investment."

After previously declaring itself "technology neutral" the Government has picked five key areas of focus to bring down emissions in Australia's most carbon-intensive sectors — energy, transport and agriculture.

It has chosen hydrogen made with renewable energy not gas, batteries, low-carbon steel and aluminium, carbon capture and storage, and sinking carbon into soil.

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"The nature of research and development portfolios is that you have to place bets, we are placing a bet on a portfolio here, that's what companies do, that's what nations do, that's what universities do. That is how research and development investment works," Energy Minister Angus Taylor told the National Press Club.

The Grattan Institute's energy program director Tony Wood said they were probably not his "perfect five" technologies, but they were all well worth investigating.

"What it is basically saying is, look, we think there is five horses here that are worth putting some money on and we will take them to the training yards and see if we can make them into racehorses," he told RN Drive, extending Mr Taylor's gambling metaphor.

"Once you have done that, you have got to put them on the track and maybe they run."

Potential for a 'very, very good outcome'

The Government has committed to spending $18 billion on the technologies and it is hoping that will encourage up to $100 billion in private investment.

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Investment is expenditure on capital goods – for example, new machines, offices, new technology . Investment is a component of Aggregate Demand (AD) and also influences the capital stock and productive capacity of the economy (long-run aggregate supply). Summary – Investment levels are

However, Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler argued the commitment is commercially meaningless without a firm emissions target.

"There is nothing to give investor's confidence to put the billions of dollars they need to put on the table to see this new technology made a reality, and that is what the Business Council, the Australian Industry Group and many others, are calling for," he responded.

"We need the Government to get onboard for net zero emissions by 2050, we need to get onto that target to give investors the confidence."

But Mr Wilder believes that, even without a legislated net zero target, the roadmap will see cheques written.

"It is difficult to know exactly how much you will get in private investment for every dollar the Government spends, but the principle is absolutely right and the best use of public money to help drive private investment," he said.

"It is what ARENA seeks to do, it is what the Clean Energy Finance Corporation seeks to do, and if we can leverage that money it is a very, very good public policy outcome."

Two of the chosen technologies are particularly controversial — carbon capture and storage (CCS) and soil carbon.

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There are significant doubts about the application of CCS, and whether its cost can be brought down to economical levels.

Mr Wilder believes that net zero emissions will need to be brought forward by up to 20 years from current 2050 targets, and so CCS needs to be explored, particularly for heavy emitting industries such as cement manufacturing.

He said soil carbon was worth exploring for its dual benefits of improving agricultural land and reducing emissions.

"The challenge to date has been the ability to measure soil carbon, it has been relatively expensive, but there are very rapidly evolving technologies that bring the cost down significantly," Mr Wilder said.

It was not just the Opposition expressing doubts about the roadmap, however, with Nationals senator and strident coal supporter Matt Canavan telling Sky News that, while he agrees with the aims of the roadmap the economy needs jobs and cheaper energy now.

"I think it would be much better for us to prioritise technologies we know will work to create jobs today," he said.

"Things like high efficiency, low emission, coal-fired power stations and fracking."

On the other side of the Coalition's energy divide, the roadmap was also savaged by former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who decried it as "a fantasy" and "crazy stuff".

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Roadmap 'necessary, not sufficient'

Despite this internal Coalition conflict, Mr Wilder believes that the Technology Investment Roadmap has taken some of the sting out of the heated and long-running energy debate, although there is still more to be done.

"The debate so far has been around the very technologies that have been identified in the roadmap — so energy storage, green steel — these are all areas which people are talking about," he said.

"What's really important now is understanding how that investment will play out, because if we don't have a certain level of co-ordinated investment the system may end up very unbalanced."

Mr Wilder is also concerned that the roadmap may not lead Australia down the best path if it is not combined with co-ordinated federal and state energy policy.

"The number one challenge is to have a very well co-ordinated national energy policy and that is really important."

Mr Wood agrees that more needs to be done for the roadmap to succeed in significantly cutting Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.

"This technology roadmap is the first piece in what can make a big difference," he said.

"It is necessary, not sufficient."

Key to success, Mr Wilder argued, is energy transmission fit for planned the new investments.

"This all needs to be backed by a focus on transmission — there are huge numbers of renewable projects currently being held up because there aren't transmission lines where they need to be or they are at capacity," he said.

He believes that ignoring transmission and just focusing on the five chosen technologies would threaten the country's ability to become the energy super power that Angus Taylor believes Australia can be.

Researchers question carbon farming — a key plank of the new Technology Investment Roadmap .
The Federal Government's new energy policy has identified carbon farming as a key method of reducing emissions, but there may be problems with the strategy. Just as farmers are getting excited about the possibilities experts are questioning the effectiveness of the practice.The Energy Minister Angus Taylor identified carbon farming as a key part of its strategy to reduce carbon emissions under the new Technology Investment Roadmap.He set a bold target to reduce the cost of measuring carbon in the soil as the first step in firing up interest in the sector.

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