The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has responded to the Federal Government’s decision to extend its mandate to ‘low-emission technologies’ by unveiling a new investment plan that provides funding for a wider range of technologies, including some using fossil fuels.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has unveiled a new investment strategy that emphasizes technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects, aluminum production and low-emission steel and “clean” hydrogen that can be produced using coal and gas.
The investment plan, released Thursday, comes after the federal government last month changed the agency’s functions to allow it to fund what it says are “next-generation” energy technologies contained in the statement on government low emission technologies (LETS).
The move met with broad opposition before surviving a Senate challenge last month.
ARENA Managing Director Darren Miller said that despite the inclusion of new priorities, the agency will continue to focus on projects that optimize Australia’s energy transition to renewable energy production, including including energy storage projects and large-scale grid integration.
“We are at the start of a critical decade for Australia and the world as we make the investments needed to reduce emissions in line with international commitments,” he said.
“We need to invest today in the technologies that will transform our energy system and our economy in the years to come.
“We must use Australia’s abundant solar and wind resources to produce, use and deliver renewable energy. We need to optimize this transition through energy storage, large-scale grid integration, flexible demand and further reduction in solar and wind energy costs.
While ARENA will continue to fund renewable energy projects, it will also prioritize projects that reduce emissions from steel and aluminum production, helping the emission-intensive metals sector to decarbonize. and to create low-emission materials. CCS projects and soil carbon measurement technologies.
Miller said the agency will also focus on CCS projects, technologies for measuring soil carbon. accelerate the absorption of hydrogen, including that produced with natural gas where emissions are captured.
“We have already committed over $ 160 million to hydrogen, but we must continue to develop a clean hydrogen industry and an export market as this is still in its infancy,” he said. declared.
“We must also support the transition of the aluminum and steel industry, whether through electrification, hydrogen or new alternatives in order to improve the competitiveness and the intensity of our emissions. heavy industries.
“Finally, we will seek to intensify CCS and reduce the cost of soil carbon. “
Miller said ARENA would seek to consult with industry and researchers to develop its approach to the new priorities.
ARENA will also implement budget programs, including the Future Fuels Fund, the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program, the Regional Australia Microgrid Pilots Program, the Freight Efficiency Assistance Grants and the Freight Energy Productivity Trial Program.
Since its inception in 2012 to fund renewable energy projects, ARENA has provided $ 1.77 billion in funding to more than 600 renewable energy projects for a total project value of $ 7.75 billion.
Last year, ARENA was renewed for an additional decade with funding of $ 1.62 billion.
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