Australia’s oil, gas and coal mining sector has extended an invitation to the nation’s leading clean tech and renewable energy businesses to help bring mining and resources – once the backbone of the Australian economy – into the 21st century, and keep it competitive on a rapidly changing global stage.
In a campaign launched on Wednesday, government funded industry group, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), said it was seeking the country’s best proven clean technology solutions, to integrate with and improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the energy resources sector.
NERA said successful projects would receive up to $3 million in co-funding, but would need to be ready to roll out, and to provide economic and environmental benefits to the customer.
“This could include projects around renewable energy, hybrid energy, smart grid, energy storage, energy efficiency, water treatment, waste management, air quality and resource,” NERA said.
NERA CEO Miranda Taylor on Wednedsay that – with the release of the Finkel Review, and it’s almost full endorsement by COAG – the timing was “spot on” to find a healthy partnership between Australia’s old and new energy resources sectors.
“What this is really about is linking the needs of the larger end of town to the emerging tech companies so that we can build capabilities in Australia and support whole of industry growth,” Taylor told RenewEconomy.
“The timing is absolutely right; language in the country in the last couple of weeks has become a lot more collaborative. We need to work together to find the right (energy) solutions, rather than lob rocks at each other,” she said.
“One of the Finkel recommendations is around gas and environmental performance. It’s about the low-carbon economy, higher environmental performance, efficiency and productivity.
“It’s a natural mix. Where you’ve got technology that enables gas and renewables to work together, you can improve productivity, boost efficiency… and release money for further investment.”
Taylor also noted that the partnerships would be mutually beneficial, helping start-up ventures in clean tech and renewable energy solutions to get on their feet in the rapidly evolving market.
“What Australia needs to do is get better at commercialising new clean technologies – to support small businesses who are in the supply chain,” she said.
A not-for profit, industry led organisation, NERA is one of six independent industry growth centres set up by the federal government in a $250 million push to boost productivity and growth.
In a Sector Competitiveness Plan published in February this year, it identified the low-carbon transition as a key plank of the 10-year strategic roadmap for Australia’s oil, gas, coal and uranium industries and value chains.
At the time of the plan’s release, NERA CEO Miranda Taylor described the need for industry business model to change, and transition to the low-carbon economy, as completely as urgent.
“The world that we’ve been in it is almost a case of technology and solutions in search of problems, and major companies not necessarily articulating their own problems,” Taylor said.
“We absolutely have to transition to a renewable and low emissions economy. So how do we get there and how do we do that in the most optimal way?”
Five months later, forming key allegiances with Australia’s burgeoning clean tech sector, to fast-track the adoption of cutting edge technologies, has been identified as one obvious solution, with potential to yield multiple benefits for the Australian economy.
“We’re looking for world class projects that we know are being developed on our home soil,” Taylor said in comments this week.
“As the Industry Growth Centre for the energy resources sector, NERA is ready to assist innovators with projects that enhance the sector’s competitiveness and productivity.
“Australia can become a powerhouse on the global stage when it comes to commercialising and connecting innovators and technology companies with the energy resources sector.
“By working together, we can ensure the Australian sector is competitive, diverse and innovative for many decades to come.”
Full details on how to apply are available here. Successful projects will be announced later this year.