According to Energy Minister Angus Taylor, the government expects businesses to invest “four or five dollars” for every dollar the government puts towards the research and development of technologies that will up Australia’s energy export status while reducing emissions.
The roadmap, which will provide guidance to individuals, will also outline the government’s expectations of the private sector, as well as the the future energy and emission reduction technologies the government will prioritise.
The government has already invested over $10.4 billion into more than 670 clean technology projects with a value of $35 billion primarily through CEFC and ARENA, much of which was solar and wind. Its next focus, according to Mr Taylor, will be hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, lithium and advanced livestock feed supply technology, while wind and solar could take a backseat.
“We must move our investments to the next challenges,” he said before the CEDA Future Direction in Energy Technology event, held last week in Sydney.
“Hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, lithium and advanced livestock feed supplements, to name a few.”
While government backing is an important component, Mr Taylor acknowledged that “it is crucial the government not crowd out private sector investment”.
Minister Taylor said: “We have to be comfortable managing an R&D investment portfolio and we must be comfortable changing horses mid-race if they don’t perform as expected.
“And we must have a transparent process so that our investments continue to encourage equivalent or more private sector investment. And that is what the Technology Investment Roadmap is all about.”
He explained that the fist step in this process will be the release of a consultation paper aimed to engage with industry and stakeholders.
“If we are going to focus every possible research dollar — both private and public — on the largest technology problem in history, we have to have some element of co-ordination and prioritisation in how we do it,” Mr Taylor said.
“An important part of the framework is to include stakeholder sentiment.”
He also announced the formation of a Technology Investment Roadmap Ministerial Reference Group, chaired by Dr Alan Finkel, which will consist of industry, investment, government and research leaders, and be tasked with identifying projects of national significance.
As for keeping tabs on its progress, Mr Taylor said the roadmap will be measured in two ways.
First, through measurable economic goals that will signal when a technology has become commercial.
“The goal for each technology is to compete with higher emission alternatives,” Mr Taylor said.
“By tracking economic progress, we can assess progress on reducing emissions at minimal costs. Because once we reach that threshold, those technologies can be adopted across the Australian economy and most important, more importantly across economies across the world without economic disruption.”
Second, the government will track investment in R&D and early deployment.
Mr Taylor noted that success essentially rests on tracking how “private sector and other investment follows our own investment”.
“To be successful from both a portfolio and a technology perspective, we must track how private sector and other investment follows our own investment,” he said.
“That is, for every dollar we invest, we want to see four or five dollars from the private sector and other levels of government following over the course of our investments.”
In concluding his speech, Mr Taylor pointed out that there is a lot of work to do in this process, at the core of which is technology and not taxes.
“It means reducing emissions, not reducing jobs and the economy. It is an approach based on rigour, discipline and optimism, not ideology.
“That approach of focusing people on improving our lives has worked for us until now, and it will work for us in the future.”