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ARENA expansion a boost for clean industry

"Today's package of low-emissions technology funding announcements from the Federal Government represents a substantial step towards a clean economy," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

"ARENA's work has helped cut the cost and speed the growth of clean energy in recent years. Ai Group has been working with stakeholders and the Government to ensure that contribution can continue - and begin to build a clean economy that extends well beyond the power sector.

"Electricity accounts for just a third of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions.  As we build a new competitive advantage in clean energy, we also need practical and investable pathways for industry, transport and agriculture to decarbonise.  That broader scope makes it sensible to expand the range of technologies that ARENA can consider.  For instance, carbon capture, utilisation and storage is one of a handful of known options for addressing hard-to-abate industrial emissions.

"The $1.43 billion in baseline funding committed to ARENA over ten years is a very substantial sum and will make a big difference to manufacturing and other sectors.  Maintaining ARENA's strong governance approach should give everyone confidence that this money will be used wisely.

"However, building a clean economy and capturing Australia's opportunities, such as potential strong growth in clean energy-intensive manufacturing, will require further public and private investment.  We welcome the Government's signal that it will add further funding to ARENA as needed, starting with the $193.4 million for additional initiatives announced today.

"Beyond ARENA the package includes a range of helpful steps to accelerate energy productivity, clean fuels, hydrogen, microgrids and more.

"There are three areas for further action.

"First, adopting a clear long term vision for Australia of net zero emissions by 2050, and global competitive advantage in a net-zero world, would help guide ARENA, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and other agencies.  The Government's Long Term Strategy for emissions reduction, expected next year, could complete the consensus on this goal across Australian governments, business organisations and others.

"Second, today's package boosts our response to climate change over the coming decade.  But we also face the immediate economic consequences of the pandemic.  As the situation evolves the Government should be ready to make large near-term commitments in the October and May Budgets to support a major renovation of Australian homes and workplaces.  That would lift energy efficiency, improve health amidst more extreme temperatures, and put people back to work across the country.

"Finally, a successful energy transition will require both improved technology and durable, investable policy frameworks that value abatement over emissions.  There is much to be done to build on existing policies, including the Safeguard Mechanism, to get there," Mr Willox said.


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