The Australian Government’s plan to spend $100 billion over 10 years on technologies like carbon capture and storage and wind turbines will have an immediate impact on Australia’s energy future.
But for some Australians, the changes are a bit of a letdown.
“We’ll be in a lot of the same place, it will be cheaper than what we’re doing now,” says Mark Johnson, a senior energy analyst at energy advisory firm Carbon Tracker International.
“We’ll have a very different future.”
While there’s plenty of room for growth in the clean energy sector, the Government is planning to spend a lot less than it’s already on the initiatives.
Mr Johnson says the Government’s investment will have a lot to do with how much technology is developed in the coming years, and how quickly it moves.
“There’s been a very slow development of technologies, and a lot has been invested in the renewables sector, which is the first area we’re going to see a lot more investment in,” he says.
“And I think that will lead to a greater reliance on renewable energy.”
As the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, Australia needs to reduce emissions to combat climate change, and Mr Johnson says Australia is a great example of where technology can help.
“Australia has been able to invest a lot into renewable energy and we have a massive amount of infrastructure to support that,” he explains.
“The thing is that we have had a very weak economy and there’s a huge gap between the level of investment in renewables and the level in other sectors.”
So we’re really starting to see an opportunity to invest in this.
“What are the main drivers behind Australia’s clean energy industry?
In a globalised economy, technology can play a big role in helping to meet the challenge of climate change.
But what’s happening in Australia’s renewable sector is a bit different.
While the Government plans to spend more than $100bn on new technologies, it’s investing in the infrastructure needed to make it work.
It’s a stark contrast to the US, which has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to develop technology and build its industrial base to match its population.”
This is a pretty unusual situation,” says Mr Johnson.”
It’s the US where we’ve got all these new wind farms and solar panels, it doesn’t really have the infrastructure that Australia does.
“So what’s going on here?
Australia’s energy mix is a mix of renewable, coal and gas.
Coal is used for power generation, but it also accounts for almost a third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Coal is one of the cheapest forms of energy to produce and transport, and it is also one of Australia’s largest fossil fuels.
But with more and more coal being burned to power the country, a lot is being produced from natural gas.
The amount of natural gas being produced in Australia is about double that of Europe and the US.
Australia’s government has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by as much as 80 per cent by 2030, and the Government hopes to double that figure by 2050.
So what are the key drivers of Australia in the energy mix?”
It doesn’t necessarily matter what we use,” says Kevin McBride, senior energy policy adviser at the Australian Conservation Foundation.”
What matters is the mix of technologies that we are deploying.
And the technology mix is going to be important.
“What the Government wants to do is use the technology available to Australia’s government and industry to help develop new renewable energy projects.”
If you’re going after a new technology and you can’t get the right technologies, you’ve got to look elsewhere,” Mr McBride explains.
The Federal Government is also planning to use its renewable energy investment to support projects that will help Australia reduce its reliance on coal and oil.”
So if we can build those things together, that’ll be a major boost.””
In the third year, $500 million will go into a gas pipeline project.
So if we can build those things together, that’ll be a major boost.”
But while the Government believes its investments will help meet Australia’s emissions reduction targets, the project will take a long time to deliver.
“As you know, there’s no end in sight for coal,” Mr McGregor says.
“It’s not going to happen in this country, and so the way you build the infrastructure to get us to that target is to build projects that have a good return on investment.”
In an effort to keep Australia’s coal industry alive, the Federal Government recently increased the carbon price by 5 cents a tonne.
This has helped offset some of the negative impacts of the price hike, including reduced employment, but the Government also needs to invest more in renewable energy to help reduce emissions.
“One of the challenges for us as an energy market is that it’s a bit like a race to the bottom,” Mr McKern