It is apparent that this is a space where we can do more for creating, delivering and using energy.
The energy transition challenge over the long term will be seismic, but we must immediately address a number of the fundamental barriers to achieve a legitimate pathway to a 1.5-degree outcome. The pace of change is not fast enough, and the actions of policymakers, regulators and consumers belie the overall, and improving, sentiment among Australians to achieve these goals.
It is clear that the long-term strategy for energy transition is to substantially reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
Business can lead the way
To achieve this reality, we must significantly increase renewable energy sources and make them cost-effective. We must make technological advances to implement new clean energy supply using hydrogen and encourage further innovation to create alternative options.
The annual investment into clean energy worldwide will need to reach $5 trillion by 2030. The decisions we make in the short and medium-term will be crucial in ensuring we can achieve net-zero.
All leading industrial nations bear the leadership responsibility to accelerate the race to net zero, and Australia has a vital role to play.
Australia has a number of natural competitive advantages within a global market, whether this is:
- Driving the energy transition using our existing natural resources to accelerate the take-up of renewable energy.
- Leveraging our comprehensive research resources and capability to accelerate alternative energy technologies.
- Accelerating the digital pathway to enable lower-cost and more efficient energy consumption.
- Creating policy settings with challenging legislative targets on reducing fossil fuels.
We must use these advantages and make them effective now.
It is refreshing that we are starting to see a shift in action from the federal government. Minister Angus Taylor’s release of Australia’s Long-Term Emissions Target Plan is encouraging.
Recent policy positions are beginning to address some elements of the solution; the nation’s new $1.6 billion Economic Accelerator Program is an example, designed to turn Australia’s leading research into world-leading businesses, with recycling and clean energy one of the six “national manufacturing priority areas” at which the program is aimed.
It is equally critical to encourage that private-sector investment is mobilised to accelerate the transition.
Not only to clean energy but also, to develop green technology and digital technology; and to create new industries with new jobs that solve the workforce challenges and various social issues in Australia to build a sustainable society.
The innovation ecosystem in Australia is readily adaptable to provide leadership in digital technologies. We have an abundance of research-agency capability – the CSIRO and The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to name just two – and a university sector with expertise and talent.
What is missing are the investment frameworks that create a stimulus for private sector, including start-ups and incubators participation that complete the eco-system; and that encourage foreign companies, with finite capital for R&D, to choose to invest in Australia, rather than in competing countries.
To achieve Australia’s global goals, cooperation between individuals, businesses, and governments is paramount to our success. This is a pivotal time, in which we all need to work together to achieve action.
Michael Miller is managing director of Hitachi Australia.