Main content area

This Statement identifies four technology categories – priority low emissions technologies, emerging and enabling technologies, watching brief technologies, and mature technologies.

Priority low emissions technologies

Potentially transformative economic and abatement impacts. They have high potential to reduce emissions both domestically and internationally across multiple sectors and applications. They are aligned with Australia’s comparative advantages.

These technologies will be the focus of new public investment. The Government will strive to remove barriers to the development of these technologies.

Emerging and enabling technologies

Emerging technologies are those that have transformative potential, but require continued monitoring of global learning rates, research and investment trends, or are the focus of existing policies and institutions.

Enabling technologies include infrastructure, like charging and refuelling stations, energy management systems, digital infrastructure, energy efficiency, and market design activities required to overcome the challenges and realise the opportunities for priority low emissions technologies.

ARENA, the CEFC and the CER will continue to support these technologies.

Watching brief technologies

Prospective technologies with transformative potential, perhaps where developments are currently driven primarily overseas.

International developments will be closely monitored and supporting infrastructure needs assessed.

Mature technologies

Existing, proven technologies like coal, gas, solar and wind will play important roles in Australia’s energy future, but are not the focus of the Roadmap.

The Government will continue to invest in mature technologies where there is a clear market failure, like a shortage of dispatchable generation, or where these investments secure jobs in key industries, but future deployment of mature technologies will primarily be driven by the private sector.

Box 2: Mature technologies supporting australia’s low emissions transformation

As new and emerging technologies develop and become more competitive, households and businesses will adopt them. This process will take time and depend on the continued operation of mature technologies.

Mature technologies include coal and gas, as well as renewable technologies like hydro, solar and wind that are already enjoying widespread commercialisation. While these technologies will play continuing roles in Australia’s energy future, they are not the focus of the first Low Emissions Technology Statement, which concentrates on accelerating uptake of new and emerging technologies. Continued cost reductions and performance improvements for mature technologies will be needed to support some of the priority low emissions technologies in this Statement and overcome the key technology challenges outlined above.

Mature technologies comprise the overwhelming majority of Australia’s electricity generation fleet – coal, gas and hydro, accompanied by rapid and world-leading investment in solar and wind. In 2019, fossil fuels contributed 79% of total electricity generation.[3] Many existing generators remain relatively early in their operating lifetimes, and will continue to provide reliable, secure and affordable electricity.

For example, the existing coal fleet provides critical system stability as well as the bulk of the low-cost power consumed by Australia’s energy-intensive industries, while gas generators provide the stability and services needed to enable the integration of rapidly increasing solar and wind energy capacity.

Gas already provides much of the peaking capacity in Australia’s electricity grids and its ability to flexibly ramp up output means it can provide firm power when solar and wind output drops. Gas-powered generation (GPG) has been valuable in enabling solar and wind build-up in several jurisdictions such as California (where 43% of annual in-state generation is from GPG), South Australia (49%) and Britain (41% from GPG and 17% from nuclear).[4]

For the most part, the Government will look to the private sector to lead investment in existing technologies, although there will be instances where it will make strategic investments, particularly where there is a clear market failure, like a shortage of dispatchable generation, or where these investments secure jobs in key industries. ARENA and the CEFC will also continue their important role in supporting the reliability and security of the current grid through their work on enabling technologies such as distributed energy management and energy efficiency.

Footnotes

[3] Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources 2020, Australian Energy Statistics, Table O Electricity generation by fuel type 2018-10 and 2019

[4] California Energy Commission, Electric Generation Capacity and Energy; Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources 2020, Australian Energy Statistics, Table O Electricity generation by fuel type 2018-10 and 2019, and International Energy Agency, Data and statistics

Hide publication menu: 
Show menu