Expanding our international partnerships in the recycling and clean energy sectors will be key to supporting competitiveness and scale for Australian manufacturers. By attracting international collaborators, we can help manufacturers develop and gain access to valuable innovation. We can also work with like-minded countries to shape and gain access to global markets that will support the industry’s rapid move to scale.
Australia is part of a number of bilateral agreements with other nations to cooperate on recycling and the circular economy, such as Malaysia and the Netherlands. Australia is also undertaking research collaboration activities on circular economy and recycling. In 2020 the Hon Karen Andrews MP announced a $19.5 million boost to a research collaboration between Australia and India for new projects to advance pandemic research and reduce plastics waste. Of this, $4.5 million will support collaborative work led by CSIRO to reduce plastic wastes, build recycling capabilities and inform the circular economy of plastics in India and Australia. The US National Science Foundation’s MULTIPLIER mission sends delegations of US researchers overseas to investigate potential research collaborations and build collaborative partnerships. Australia has been selected for a mission that will focus on the topics of plastics and AI ethics.
The Technology Investment Roadmap is a government plan to accelerate the development of new and emerging low emissions technologies by making them economically competitive with established technologies. This unlocks opportunities for Australian businesses to enter national and international supply chains. This is supported by the appointment of Dr Alan Finkel as Australia’s Special Advisor on Low Emissions Technology, who will assist in brokering new partnerships for Australia.
On the research front, CSIRO has collaborated with international partners to utilise Australian technologies overseas. Our concentrated solar thermal (CST) technologies are being used in Japan and Cyprus to increase their proportion of power generated from renewable sources.65 CSIRO has also partnered with China to help meet their ambitious CST installation goals, by licensing CSIRO’s low-cost heliostat technology.66 Australia also participates in the Mission Innovation initiative to accelerate global clean energy innovation. In late 2017 the Australian Government announced a $5 million International Engagement Program delivered by ARENA to forge international collaborations and to participate in projects under Mission Innovation and the IEA's Technology Collaboration Programs. Australia’s participation in both of these international platforms, which focus on accelerating renewable energy development, will support commercialisation prospects for Australian technologies.67
Australia is co-operating with other countries on enabling frameworks for market development in 'green' manufactured products. For example, through the National Hydrogen Strategy, Australia has committed to take a lead role in the development of an international certification scheme to facilitate trade and avoid delaying investment. This could eventually extend to downstream products such as low emissions steel. Australia is also engaging multilaterally in key forums to shape the rules for hydrogen trade and investment, share best practices in RD&D, safety and community engagement, and to foster private sector investment. These forums include the G20, the Clean Energy Ministerial and the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial. Australia's key hydrogen trading partners are set to include Japan, Republic of Korea, and Singapore. Various forms of cooperation have been agreed, such as joint statements on cooperation and memorandums of understanding, which will encourage demand for our Hydrogen Energy Hubs
The government will implement a collaborative integrated approach to recycling and clean energy manufacturing in Australia. In particular, we can collaborate to help manufacturers tap industry development potential that will flow from related government initiatives. For example:
- Activating Regional Hydrogen Export Hubs: The Government has announced funding to support the creation of a regional, export-oriented ‘clean hydrogen hub’, comprising co-located hydrogen users, exporters, and bilateral trading partners. This will link with international initiatives. There is a window for Australian manufacturers to provide equipment and components to hydrogen hubs, and take advantage of hydrogen in other manufacturing processes.
- Renewable Energy Zones: The Government is working together with state governments to support the development of renewable energy zones (REZ). These REZs will drive demand for manufactured project inputs and help support clean and secure electricity supply for other manufacturing at scale. The first REZ is planned for Central-West New South Wales, which will unlock up to 3GW of new electricity capacity by the mid-2020s.
- Procurement of recycled materials: The Government is committed to create demand for recycled materials by buying goods with recycled content. Agencies must now consider environmental sustainability and the opportunity to use recycled content when determining value for money in purchasing decisions. Through the National Waste Policy Action Plan, governments are developing standards to support the use of recycled materials in roads and looking for opportunities to use recycled content in the infrastructure we build.
As this road map is rolled out, experts from across government departments and agencies such as CSIRO, ARENA, CEFC, DFAT and AusIndustry will assist government and industry by providing expert advice to grow the local manufacturing sector and to identify opportunities to access export markets and supply chains.
Collaboration—either business-to-business or business-to-research—is central to our approach under the Modern Manufacturing Strategy (MMS). This resonates strongly in the recycling and clean energy areas.
This road map supports the recycling and clean energy sector to build stronger collaborations that engage strategically with the MMS. Our expectation is that industry, supported by co-investment, will develop diverse collaborations that clear a path to scale and competitiveness and tackle barriers in a coordinated way.
Supporting greater levels of collaboration between government, businesses, venture capitalists, industry experts and researchers will ensure we realise the benefits of innovation, harness our world-class research capabilities and translate our great ideas into commercial outcomes that support new businesses and jobs.
66 CSIRO (2019) Our solar tech commercialised in China, accessed 4 February 2020
67 Mission Innovation (n.d.) Australia—Plans and Priorities, accessed 4 February 2020