Renewable energy, climate change and emissions reduction policy are all key campaign issues for both major parties, the Australian Greens and a number of independents ahead of Australia’s upcoming federal election.
To date, much of Australia’s investment in renewable energy and drive for emissions reductions have been led by private sector initiatives and State and Territory governments. Without understating the important roles of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), clear federal policy has certainly been lacking. While this may continue, the prominence of renewable energy and emissions reductions promises in the competing federal campaign platforms and the separate tacts of the parties presents a ‘sliding doors’ moment for the renewable energy sector at a federal level.
Major party platforms
While there are common threads between the Liberal-National Coalition and Australian Labor Party platforms with respect to renewables and emissions reductions – including general support for green hydrogen, upgrades of the electricity grid and investment in decarbonising and emissions reductions innovations – the parties are divided on the areas which should receive the greatest investment and policy attention.
Key investments and policies to be expected from each of the major parties are set out in our analysis of the primary environmental policy plans below and in our recent article here.
Key investments and policy plans of major parties if elected
Australian Labor Party
- emissions target of net zero by 2050, with 15% of reductions pinned to future technological innovations;
- A$1.5 billion investment in hydrogen and associated infrastructure, the development of ‘Clean Hydrogen Hubs’ and a trial Guarantee of Origin scheme;
- A$300 million investment in design and construction of CCS carbon capture and storage (CCS) hubs and research and commercialisation of carbon capture technologies over the next 10 years;
- A$148.6 million funding for community microgrids in regional Australia over next five years to support renewables transmission;
- A$7.1 billion for ‘next generation energy hubs’ to support existing resource hubs in the NT, Qld and WA increase low emissions activities, upgrade the grid and increase low emissions manufacturing; and
- A$65 million for the Tasmanian Tarraleah hydropower scheme to assess commercial viability of redevelopment.
- target of 43% reduction of emissions by 2030, and legislation of net zero by 2050;
- A$20 billion investment for upgrade of Australian electricity grid;
- A$220 million investment in 400 community batteries for solar storage and A$100 million co-investment in community co-operative solar banks;
- redirection of funding to decarbonisation of industry in regions and development of new industries including green hydrogen and bioenergy in the regions;
- A$15 billion kick-off investment in National Reconstruction Fund to pursue commercial ‘green’ opportunities;
- A$251 million investment in Electric Vehicle (EV) discounts;
- national EV strategy to encourage EV charging infrastructure; and
- changes to the Safeguard Mechanism of the Emissions Reduction Fund, gradually reducing emissions baseline for highest emitters to increase private demand.
Influence of the Australian Greens
As the third largest political party by vote at the last federal election, the Greens have traditionally played a role in pushing the party’s policy objectives where support for proposed legislation is required by a major party.
Increased reliance on renewables and emissions reductions are driving policy issues for the Greens. Regardless of the election outcome, but particularly where a minority government or close majority is formed, the Greens will likely play a pivotal role in pressing their agenda items, particularly with respect to:
- supporting green hydrogen commitments;
- accelerating the transition to 100% renewable energy through investment in green energy and manufacturing and the phase out of coal, oil and gas;
- the development of EV infrastructure and EV industry with a shift away from petrol and diesel cars; and
- hesitation on significant investment in CCS technology in favour of carbon drawdown alternatives (reducing deforestation and increasing tree plantation).
Outcomes for the renewables sector
Under a re-elected Coalition government, the sector can expect:
- support and significant investment in green hydrogen proposals – while funding for several projects is earmarked, the Coalition has signalled strong intentions to make Australia a ‘Hydrogen Hub’ and will be supportive of such proposals;
- keen interest in CCS proposals – CCS hubs are set to be developed and the Coalition would aim to make CCS eligible for Australian Carbon Credit Units under the Emissions Reduction Fund;
- tenders for the development of community micro-grids; and
- tenders to upgrade grid infrastructure and calls for low emissions project proposals around current resource-heavy areas – players proposing innovations to assist low emissions manufacturing and resource-adjacent activities to reduce emissions of high emitting activities will likely be supported.
By comparison, under an incoming Labor government, the sector can expect:
- prioritisation of projects to upgrade the grid, increase renewable energy transmission and encouragement of development of large-scale renewable energy projects;
- tenders for the development of community batteries and solar banks, as well as the development of EV-related infrastructure; and
- funding for projects focussed on the decarbonisation of industry in the regions and support the development of a wide range of new ‘green’ industry in the regions – including in wind turbine component manufacturing, battery and solar panel supply chain and manufacturing, new livestock feed to reduce methane emissions, green steel and aluminium, hydrogen electrolysers, bioenergy, biomass and waste packaging.
This article is part of our Australian Federal Election 2022 Insight collection. Read more here.
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