Member Participation

Australia

Narrative

The Australian Government recognises that supporting the development, demonstration and deployment of renewable technologies will help transition the world’s energy sector to low emissions over the course of the century.

In joining Mission Innovation, Australia pledged to double government clean energy research and development investment to approximately $208 million by 2020.

The baseline we nominated is the 2015 figure reported to the International Energy Agency (IEA) for combined research and development into the following focus areas: renewable energy, energy storage, fuel cells, smart grids, energy efficiency, nuclear and carbon capture and storage. Australia’s total government expenditure in 2015 in these focus areas was approximately AUD $104 million.

Australia is making important strides towards achieving this pledge. Much of the Government’s focus during 2016 has been on getting the frameworks and institutions right for domestic climate change action.

The Australian Government recently established Innovation and Science Australia – the organisation is charged with helping the Government deliver the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

Innovation and Science Australia will work across government, providing guidance around our $10.1 billion investment in 2016-17 in innovation, science and research. ISA will also promote investment in industry, innovation, science and research in Australia, including showcasing successful innovators, entrepreneurs and researchers.

ISA will see Australia continuing to commercialise the great ideas coming out of our universities and laboratories, such as University of New South Wales photovoltaics innovation that will be embedded within almost half of all new solar panels sold globally by 2020.

Earlier in the year, the Government also finalised arrangements for the continuation of the clean energy funding delivery agencies, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

With these changes Australia now has a set of targeted government interventions working together to support research and development, help emerging technologies to make the transition from demonstration to commercial implementation.

Australian scientists and researchers are making world-leading contributions to the development of clean energy technologies across a range of areas, including in solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wave energy, and biofuels, and low emission heating and cooling.

The Government supports this research and development work through a variety of funding delivery agencies including the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the Australian Research Council, and Australia’s national science and research agency, the CSIRO.

To date the Government has committed approximately AUD $1 billion to 250 projects along the innovation chain through ARENA, from research and development to demonstration and near-commercial deployment.

This includes over AUD $120 million to fund multiple residential and commercial battery storage projects and solar thermal energy storage projects in Australia, which will help to smooth out energy supply on grids, reduce peak loads, allow utilities to better manage power supply and demand and potentially mitigate the need for network upgrades.

The CSIRO is pioneering the world-first demonstration of a desiccant air-conditioning system using rooftop concentrating solar thermal collectors. It has the potential to improve the efficiency of solar thermal energy systems and storage to provide clean, reliable heating and cooling in commercial buildings.

In the middle stages of the innovation chain the Government’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund has AUD $200 million available over the next two years to support emerging technologies transition through demonstration to commercial deployment and become viable. The Fund provides both debt and equity for clean energy projects and be jointly managed by the CEFC and ARENA, drawing on their complementary experience and expertise.

At the more advanced end of the innovation chain, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation partners with private sector investors to increase investment in clean energy technologies. The CEFC’s investment commitments have now reached AUD $2.3 billion, contributing to clean energy deployment projects and programs with a total value of around AUD $5.7 billion.

Together these institutions are accelerating Australia’s transition to competitive clean energy through investments in both small and large-scale renewable technologies, and through innovative financing mechanisms to develop, demonstrate and deploy a range of low emissions technologies. The Government has recently secured more than AUD $800 million in clean energy funding support to underpin this transition over the five years to 2022.

The Australian Government is currently in the middle of a national consultation exercise to develop a Low Emissions Technology Roadmap for Australia. The Roadmap will make recommendations on Australia’s future clean energy research and development priorities, including where to focus domestic research and opportunities to collaborate internationally to deliver clean energy solutions for Australia.

Informed by the Roadmap, our world class universities and research institutions will continue to collaborate with our international colleagues to unlock new ideas and transitional pathways in the energy sector.

The Roadmap will inform Australia’s participation in the Innovation Challenges that Mission Innovation announced during COP22, ensuring that Australia continues to build on the successes of the Australia-US Solar Thermal Research Initiative, the Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics, and SolarPACES.

All of these institutions and frameworks are complemented by a comprehensive suite of policies which are working in tandem to reduce Australia’s emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Fund is helping Australian farmers and businesses reduce emissions while generating new income streams and boosting productivity. Our Emissions Reduction Fund has already contracted 143 million tonnes of emissions reductions at an average price of $12.10 per tonne.

The Fund’s safeguard mechanism puts emissions limits on Australia’s largest emitters covering about 50 per cent of national emissions – providing assurance that abatement purchased through the Fund is not offset by emissions increases elsewhere in the economy.

The Renewable Energy Target puts us on track for around 23 per cent of Australia’s power to come from renewable sources by 2020. So far, almost 2.5 million Australian households have solar systems – one of the highest levels of uptake in the world.

The National Energy Productivity Plan is driving more productive use of energy – we have a target to improve Australia’s energy productivity by 40 per cent between 2015 and 2030. The Plan is expected to deliver at least one quarter of Australia’s emission reductions to meet our international commitments to 2030.

The Government will take stock of Australia’s policies in 2017 to ensure they are calibrated towards achieving our future targets. The review will consider how best to support clean energy research and development in the longer term and be informed by the need to deliver on Australia’s pledge to double that support for Mission Innovation.

 

Baseline and Doubling Plans

  • Country-Determined Baseline Year(s): 2015
  • Baseline Funding Amount: AUD $104 million (USD $78 million)
  • Doubling Target-Year: 2020
  • Doubling Target Amount: AUD $208 million (USD $156 million)

Methodology for Determining Baseline

The baseline we nominated is the 2015 figure reported to the International Energy Agency (IEA) for combined research and development into the following focus areas: renewable energy, energy storage, fuel cells, smart grids, energy efficiency, nuclear and carbon capture and storage. Australia’s total government expenditure in 2015 in these focus areas was approximately AUD $104 million. This excludes research and development spending on fossil fuels other than carbon capture and storage, electricity transmission and distribution networks, recoupable investments made by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), and expenditure on later stage deployment.

Country-Definition of Clean Energy R&D Investment

Research and development in low carbon technologies, including end use energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear energy, electric grid technologies, carbon capture and storage, and advanced transportation systems and fuels. Investments are implemented through a number of mechanisms including cost-shared projects with the private sector, research and development activities at the National Laboratories, grants to universities, and support for collaborative research centers targeted to key energy technology frontiers.

Overview of Clean Energy R&D Focus Areas Emphasized in Mission Innovation Portfolio

Industry & buildings

 

Vehicles & other transportation

 

Bio-based fuels & energy

 

Solar, wind & other renewables

 

Nuclear energy

 

Hydrogen & fuel cells

 

Cleaner fossil energy
CO2 capture, utilization & storage

 

Electricity grid

 

Energy storage

 

Basic energy research

 

Indicators are for key areas of Mission Innovation R&D investment but do not imply a comprehensive representation of a country’s full R&D portfolio.

The Government’s Innovation and Science Agenda outlines how we will transform our approach to innovation and science right across the economy with major new initiatives.

“The Australian Government recognises the importance of science, innovation and technology to our future prosperity and economic security as a nation in a rapidly expanding and diversifying global economy.” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, 27 October 2015.

The Australian Government’s support for clean energy extends well beyond the research and development stage, and includes a comprehensive suite of policies to drive innovation and large scale uptake across the energy supply chain.

More detail is available from the Prime Minister’s website here.

Prime Minister Turnbull on Mission Innovation:

“We do not doubt the implications of the science, or the scale of the challenge. But above all we do not doubt the capacity of humanity to meet it – with imagination, innovation and the prudence that befits those, like us, who make decisions that will affect not just our own children and grandchildren but generations yet unborn.

Here in Paris Australia supports a new – and truly global – climate agreement. It is an agreement that must drive humanity’s capacity for inventiveness and a new wave of technological advances. We firmly believe that it is innovation and technology which will enable us both to drive stronger economic growth and a cleaner environment.

We are a highly social and innovative species and so the more we share innovative technologies, the better they will become. Today Australia joins with many other countries in supporting Mission Innovation which aims to double investment in clean energy innovation over the next five years.”

Full statement

Related sites:

Prime Minister’s website

Department of the Environment and Energy

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