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May 21 2020

Roadmap discussion paper a sensible approach

Major advances in technology and their widespread adoption will be essential for a low and ultimately net zero carbon economy, according to the Australian Energy Council.

Welcoming the release of the Federal Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper, the 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 Discussion Paper kicks off a process, led by Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, that will help Australia establish key priorities to transition to a low emissions economy.

“We support the Discussion Paper’s focus on increased electrification and development of hydrogen.

“The paper identifies that while the cheapest new sources of generation are solar and wind, their variability continues to require flexible support to ensure reliability of the system, which implies both storage and a role for gas, particularly peaking gas plants.

“It has also sensibly directed its Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) focus to natural gas and hydrogen production, which represent realistic opportunities for this technology.  Previous efforts to develop CCS to allow retrofitting of coal-fired power stations have not been commercially successful.

“Importantly, the paper outlines a range of potential technologies and goes beyond electricity to consider the potential for technology to reduce emissions from the other two-thirds of Australia’s emissions.

“It also supports Government funding for innovation.  But as a note of caution, funding should be reserved for genuine innovation and to help establish early stage clean technologies.  It should not subsidise already commercial or mature technologies.

“The latter would simply undermine private investor confidence and inhibit market efficiencies.

“In that regard, we also note that the paper confirms that Clean Energy Finance Corporation and ARENA funds have been used to support already mature technologies. This is a concern. Customers need to be confident that taxpayer funds are being spent on technologies that require support, not those that are already self-sufficient.

“We look forward to formally responding to the roadmap and engaging with both the Government and the Chief Scientist on the most efficient pathway to a lower emissions future,” Ms McNamara said.

About the Australian Energy Council

The Council represents 24 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. These businesses collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia and sell gas and electricity to over 10 million homes and businesses.

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