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July 02, 2020

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Australian Government Seeks Feedback on Energy Emissions Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper

What Has Happened? 

The Australian Government is seeking feedback on its Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper (Technology Discussion Paper) which aims to provide a strategic and system-wide focus for future investments in low emissions technologies. 

Submissions on the Technology Discussion Paper must be provided by 21 June 2020. 

Why is the Technology Discussion Paper Important? 

The Technology Discussion Paper follows the announcement by the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction on 21 May 2020 which confirmed that the Australian Government will: 

  • articulate its technology priorities through annual Low Emissions Technology Statements to guide investment through to 2050 

  • commit to producing hydrogen at below $2 per kilogram as the Australian Government’s first "priority technology stretch goal". 

The feedback provided on the Technology Discussion Paper will help inform the first Low Emissions Technology Statement, which is proposed to be issued by the Australian Government in Q3 2020. 

The Low Emissions Technology Statement will be used: 

  • to guide the Australian Government's investment decisions to reduce emissions (including in the October 2020 budget) 

  • as the cornerstone of a proposed Long Term Emissions Reduction Strategy to be delivered ahead of the United Nations Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) in 2021. 

What is Covered by the Technology Discussion Paper? 

The Technology Discussion Paper recognises that partnering with industry to support investment in the development of new technologies across energy intensive sectors is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving a secure and low cost electricity supply. 

The Technology Discussion Paper focuses on incentivising voluntary emissions reductions on a broad scale and does not commit to a further emissions reduction target. 
The indicative shortlist of priority technologies in the electricity sector assessed in the Technology Discussion Paper include: 

  • gas generation "to firm variable renewables" 

  • pumped hydro 

  • onshore/offshore wind 

  • micro-grids 

  • next generation solar photovoltaic technologies 

  • large-scale batteries 

  • small modular nuclear reactors. 

The Technology Discussion Paper focuses on investment to support the affordability, security and reliability of the electricity supply as well as reduce emissions. While renewables remain a clear focus of future investment decisions the Government has also: 

  • indicated that the export of LNG is global low emissions opportunity and domestic gas supply has an essential role in supporting variable renewable energy 

  • hydrogen remains an option if it can be produced at below $2 per kilogram so as to become competitive 

  • not excluded coal from the Government's vision for a low emissions future. 

How Has the Technology Discussion Paper Been Received? 

The Technology Discussion Paper has attracted a degree of criticism and controversy, including in relation to its: 

  • lack of targets on emissions reduction or policy on regulatory reform to achieve these (see here for example) 

  • emphasis on gas as an essential fuel for a low emissions future (see for example, a report prepared by the Climate Council entitled Primed for Action: A Resilient Recovery for Australia). 

How Can I Make a Submission? 

The Government is seeking submissions on the Technology Discussion Paper until 21 June 2020. Please see here for a copy of the Technology Discussion Paper and to make a submission. 

Specific issues on which submissions are being sought include: 

  • challenges, trends and advantages that should be considered in determining Australia's technology priorities 

  • the technologies that should be prioritised 

  • barriers that need to be addressed to enable priority technologies to be adopted at scale in Australia 

  • areas where is Australia well-placed to take advantage of future demand for low emissions technologies

  • suggestions for "economic stretch goals" for the cost-effective deployment of priority technologies.

Copyright 2020 K & L GatesNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 153


About this Author

Kirstie Richards Environmental Lawyer KL Gates Law Firm Sydney

Ms. Richards is an environmental and planning lawyer who focuses on large scale projects in the energy, renewables, oil and gas, mining and infrastructure sectors. She has more than 15 years' experience advising on planning, environmental and regulatory approvals, pollution and contamination, environmental legal risk management and allocation, crisis management (including regulatory investigations, enforcement and prosecutions) and land access (including compensation, mining and petroleum access and neighbour agreements) and environmental and planning litigation. 

Ms. Richards...

Luke Westmore Energy & Infrastructure Attorney K&L Gates Melbourne, Australia

Mr. Westmore has over 17 years' experience in complex energy and infrastructure projects.

In addition to his expertise in drafting and negotiating EPC agreements, power purchase agreements, connection agreements and operation and maintenance agreements, he has extensively advised on non-recourse or limited recourse project finance documentation.

His clients include sponsors, lenders, contractors and government agencies on a wide variety of energy and infrastructure projects including wind farms, solar projects, hydroelectric projects, power stations, highways, airports and the development of oil and gas fields across Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, the United States and the Middle East.

Mr Westmore has extensive experience in the renewable energy sector and is acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading renewable energy lawyers.

Primary Practice

  • Power

Secondary Practices

  • Construction and Infrastructure

  • Energy Storage

  • Oil, Gas & Resources

  • Renewable Energy

Zac Kerr Construction & Infrastructure Attorney K&L Gates Melbourne, Australia

Mr. Kerr is a partner in the Melbourne office and advises on projects and infrastructure transactions globally, particularly in Australia and Asia. He has a particular knowledge of the transport, power, water and social infrastructure / public–private partnership (PPP) sectors, including greenfield contracting, financing and secondary markets.

Mr. Kerr has advised on every privately owned toll road in Australia (together with a number of international road projects). He has also advised on the majority of the PPPs undertaken in Australia to date (together with a number of offshore...

 Matt Baumgurtel Partner Sydney Power Climate Change and Sustainability Construction and Infrastructure Corporate/M&A Energy Storage Project Finance Renewable Energy

Mr. Baumgurtel is a partner in our Energy, Infrastructure and Resources group. He has 15 years of experience advising on energy and infrastructure projects, mergers and acquisitions transactions (both public and private), corporate advisory, and cross border transactions in Australia and throughout the Asia Pacific region, particularly in the energy sector. 

He advises on energy and infrastructure development projects, particularly in the energy sector. He specialises in the provision of strategic and commercial legal advice throughout the energy / infrastructure asset lifecycle:...

Jessica Wood Planning & Environmental Attorney K&L Gates Sydney, Australia
Special Counsel

Ms Wood is a planning and environmental lawyer with more than 15 years experience advising on planning and environmental approvals, local government law, pollution law and environmental and planning litigation.

Primary Practice

  • Real Estate