Scott Morrison lands in Port Kembla to announce $1.9b energy plan

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Hume MP Angus Taylor. Photos: Adam McLean
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Hume MP Angus Taylor. Photos: Adam McLean

Scott Morrison is at Port Kembla Steelworks this morning to unveil a $1.9 billion renewable investment package to reduce carbon emissions.

He arrived at BlueScope just after 9.30am for a tour and will front the media at 10.30am.

He will announce the continued funding of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and will expand its remit to include projects and technologies outside renewables.

The funding includes measures prioritising carbon capture and storage, hydrogen technologies and programs to allow businesses and community groups to reduce their energy bills.

ARENA will have guaranteed baseline funding of $1.427 billion over the next decade, but the government wants to expand its mandate to "unlock new technologies".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at BlueScope's Port Kembla steelworks on Thursday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison at BlueScope's Port Kembla steelworks on Thursday.

Under current rules ARENA can only invest in renewables, but the government believes energy sources like wind and solar are no longer in need of subsidies because they are mature technologies.

"Australia is in the midst of a world-leading boom in renewable energy with over $30 billion invested since 2017," Mr Morrison said.

"Solar panels and wind farms are now clearly commercially viable and have graduated from the need for government subsidies and the market has stepped up to invest."

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will also be changed to widen the technologies it can invest in.

Carbon capture and storage projects will be funded to the tune of $50 million, and $95.4 million will go into a Technology Co-Investment Fund that will go to businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors to use new technologies to reduce their emissions and increase productivity.

Climate change protesters at BlueScope in Port Kembla on Thursday.

Climate change protesters at BlueScope in Port Kembla on Thursday.

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The government is also set to back hydrogen energy by establishing a $70.2 million hydrogen export hub in a regional location.

Just over $50 million will go into energy productivity measures to help energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings. Of that, $12 million will go into a program where community groups could apply for funding to install solar panels or better air-conditioning that is more energy efficient.

Also part of the measures, $12 million will go to a "hotel uplift program," which could include money for regional pubs to upgrade their air-conditioning or refrigeration to be more energy efficient.

The government hasn't completely turned away from backing solar, with $67 million to be spent on creating "microgrids" for remote mine sites, farms and stations and remote communities so they can reduce reliance on diesel generation by using batteries and solar panels.

Despite the Liberal party attacking Labor over its election promise to spend $57 million to increase the number of electric vehicles sold in Australia, Thursday's announcement will include a $74.5 million future fuels fund, which will incentivise the building of regional charging or refuelling stations for hydrogen, electric or bio-fuelled vehicles.

Another $24.6 million will go to the Clean Energy Regulator to develop new ways that projects can earn carbon credits, and halve the timeframe to develop new ways to 12 months.

Some of the measures are responses to a report by the Business Council of Australia's president and former managing director of Origin Energy Grant King's report into lowering emissions without increasing costs for businesses, delivered in May this year.

"We will reduce the cost of new and emerging technologies, not raise the cost of existing technologies or layer in new costs to consumers and businesses through mandated targets or subsidies," Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said.

AAP

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This story Scott Morrison lands in Port Kembla to announce $1.9b energy plan first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.