Engineers say technology roadmap should focus on cheap renewables, energy storage | RenewEconomy

Engineers say technology roadmap should focus on cheap renewables, energy storage

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Australian engineers’ peak body join submissions calling for a technology roadmap based around cheap solar and wind and energy storage technologies.

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A submission from the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering to the federal government’s proposed technology roadmap has called for “deep and ongoing” investment in renewable energy generation in response to the Coalition’s apparent skew towards gas, carbon capture and storage, and coal.

The submission follows last month’s publication of a discussion paper by federal energy minister Angus Taylor, which cites 140 different technologies ranging across the electricity sector, to buildings, transport, manufacturing and agriculture.

The proposed roadmap, while careful not to “pick winners,” raised serious concerns that the Morrison government was seeking to delay, nobble or handicap wind, solar and storage, while propping up gas, refusing to rule out coal, and even canvassing small modular nuclear reactors.

A submission from the ATSE, however, says Australia can become a world leader in renewable energy, and recommends half-a-dozen crucial actions to achieve this, including by scaling up infrastructure to support greater use of solar and wind power, a rapid transition to electric heating and transport, and developing a hydrogen energy economy.

“Renewable energy is getting cheaper, and the technology exists today to scale up production and introduce mechanisms to ensure the reliability of supply, move towards meeting domestic and industrial energy needs, and transition to electric and hydrogen fuelled transport systems,” the chair of the ATSE’s Energy Forum, Dr John Söderbaum, said in the submission.

“The key next step is to continue to develop and adopt storage solutions that increase our ability to rely on renewable energy and allow generation using older, emissions-heavy fossil fuel technologies to retire.

“We recommend deep and ongoing government and private sector investment to support further research and development, production, storage and network integration of all low-cost and low-emissions energy sources, including hydrogen.”

More predictably, a submission from the Clean Energy Council warned that a technology roadmap that ignored the commercial reality and enormous investment appetite for renewable energy …would be “a waste of time, taxpayer money and a distraction to the energy transition.”

In its own submission to Taylor, the CEC said that the roadmap should leverage Australia’s comparative advantage around solar and wind energy, as the cheapest sources of electricity generation, and the mature industry built around these resources.

“There remain a variety of challenges to the accelerated deployment of these technologies and solutions, which warrant strong and coordinated attention and strategy from all governments,” the CEC submission said.

The CEC also called for the roadmap to support renewable energy enablers – energy storage, grid-forming inverter technology, transmission network and integrated systems architecture – and “the exploiters of renewable energy,” such as hydrogen and electric vehicles.

A further submission, this time from the Grattan Institute, recommends the development of “a continuous framework or ‘bridge’ to support research, development and deployment of technologies that have the potential to deliver emissions reductions at lowest cost.

“The role of government is to address early-mover technology and climate-change policy risks. In doing so, support should be targeted to the nature and readiness of the technology,” it says.

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