Highlights in 2020
Highlights in 2020

Update on clean energy innovation policies and strategies

In 2020 Australia developed the Technology Investment Roadmap as an enduring framework with a strategic and system-wide view for the investment and deployment of low emissions technologies in the short, medium and long term. The first Low Emissions Technology Statement was released in September 2020. The statement outlines five priority low emissions technologies and economic stretch goals based on their potential to deliver abatement and economic outcomes, their alignment with Australia’s comparative advantage and technological readiness.[1]

In September 2020 the Government committed further support to the next generation of energy technologies with an extra AUD $1.62 billion for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to invest, as well as expanding the focus of ARENA and CEFC to back new technologies that will cut emissions in agriculture, manufacturing, industry and transport.[2]

Major innovation initiatives and programmes in 2020/21

Following the release of Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, the Government has announced setting up a hydrogen export hub worth $70.2 million to scale-up demand and take advantage of the advancements in this low emissions, high powered source of energy

The Australian Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) has launched the AU$71.9 million Future Fuels Fund, announced as part of the 20/21 Federal Budget, aimed at addressing barriers to the roll out of new vehicle technologies. The first round of the Fund will see AU$16.5 million of grant funding made available to fund battery electric vehicle (BEV) public fast charging infrastructure to expand the network and reduce blackspots. Subsequent funding rounds, commencing later in 2021, will focus on supporting business fleets to transition to BEVs, as well as explore opportunities with hydrogen and biofuels.[3]

In July 2020, the ARENA announced a shortlist of seven projects under the $70 million Renewable Hydrogen Deployment Funding Round, who were invited to submit a full application by January 2021. ARENA expects to select the preferred projects by mid- 2021. Successful projects are expected to reach financial close by late 2021 and commence construction in 2022.

Private sector engagement in 2020/21

The Government increased its support for businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors to adopt technologies that increase productivity and reduce emissions through a new $95.4 million Technology Co-Investment Fund. This aims to help businesses to adopt technologies that increase productivity and reduce emissions.

Australia has established a Technology Investment Advisory Council with members who lead in their respective fields across private and public sector investment and industry.[4]

The Technology Investment Advisory Council provides advice on low emissions technology investment priorities, economic stretch goals and pathways that will drive economic prosperity and lower emissions.

Major activities in support of the Innovation Challenges in 2020/21

IC1 Smart Grids

  • Planning for the International Conference on the Integration of Renewable and Distributed Energy Resources (IRED) – This was originally planned for Adelaide in October 2020 and was the first time this conference was to be held in Australia. Due to COVID, this has now been rescheduled to 2022 & an online seminar series has been setup to maintain these international relationships & discussions on research priorities/pathways and to promote Australian expertise in renewable energy technology.
  • Sharing international experiences to support the development of international standards and guidelines. A particular aspect here has been the use of the CSIRO Renewable Energy Integration Facility as part of the IEA ISGAN laboratory testing annex in testing interactions within inverter dominated networks. Multiple international laboratories have collaborated in this testing & this has been used to support the development of the updated Australian inverter standards (AS/NZS4777).

IC7 Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings

  • We continue to chair (operating agent for) the International Energy Agency “Data-Driven Smart Buildings” which was created under Mission Innovation IC7 priority D ‘predictive maintenance and control’.  The collaboration now includes 19 countries and over 50 organisations.  We are currently running our first global machine learning competition on data-driven management of buildings as distributed energy resources in grid applications.  We have run 3 Research webinars, sharing knowledge on data management and data-driven applications.
  • The $18million AIRAH led “Affordable Heating and Cooling Innovation Hub” (i-Hub) has approved over 20 projects under three activities (i) Living Laboratories, (ii) Integrated Design Studios and (iii) Data Clearing House.  The Data Clearing House platform is being used to validate energy efficiency and flexible demand resources in CSIRO buildings (Commonwealth Government’s 2nd largest building portfolio).  Approved projects commit to more than 25 buildings active on the platform.  Substation by substation resource assessments have identified 1.2GW of flexible demand potential from HVAC.    Demonstrations of HVAC demand management will highlight the technology pathway for unlocking flexible demand potential.

Other Mission Innovation related activity in 2020/21

Australia co-leads along with UK, Chile, Germany and the EU the development of Mission Innovation’s new clean hydrogen mission. This will be launched in June 2021 at the 6th Mission Innovation Ministerial. The aim of this work is to stimulate international R&D collaboration aimed at accelerating clean hydrogen development.

Public sector RD&D investment

Australia’s MI baseline includes research and development but not demonstration.

Australia will not have data on R&D investment for clean energy in 2020–21 until early in the 2022 calendar year.

Progress towards our 2020 R&D commitment is not expected to be linear. Growth in clean energy R&D expenditure to 2020 is expected to be primarily driven by increased investments through the Australian Renewables Energy Agency (ARENA). While full data is not yet available, we have provided the investments from ARENA for the past two financial years.

The Government released Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap in September 2020. Australia is now working on new metrics which focus on the leveraging of private sector funding through the provision of government funding and financing through ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) in low emissions technologies.

Since 2012, ARENA has supported 543 projects with $1.58 billion in grant funding, unlocking total investment of almost $6.48 billion in Australia’s renewable energy industry. ARENA provided funding of $120 million to a total of 49 new projects in 2019-20. Funding was provided to one or more new projects in each of ARENA’s investment priority areas.[5]

New Collaborations

  • Collaborator: Japan
    • Name of collaboration
      • Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) pilot project
    • Brief Description
      • Establishing a hydrogen supply chain, with the first trial cargo of hydrogen expected to be shipped in November 2020.
    • Sectors
      • Public-private
    • Type of collaboration
      • Demonstration
    • Duration
      • 2017-2022
    • Funding amount
      • $500 million
    • Additional information


  • Collaborator: Germany
    • Name of collaboration
      • Joint Declaration of Intent on an Australian-German Supply Chain Feasibility Study of Hydrogen Produced from Renewables (September 2020).
    • Brief Description
      • A competitive process to select an Australian consortium to partner with German industry to deliver the renewable hydrogen supply chain feasibility study.
    • Sectors
      • Public-private
    • Type of collaboration
      • Research
    • Duration
      • 2020-2022
    • Funding amount
      • Australian Government contribution $363,000 to the consortium to deliver the study. Australian industry consortia contributing $1,103,000 of in-kind and cash contributions.
    • Additional information