Federal Budget invests in electrification of the nation

The government has committed serious funds to electrifying our nation, and growing our capacity to generate more of our electricity from the renewable sector than ever before. Renewable investment schemes included in the budget also present an opportunity to build back public ownership into the energy system as it transitions.

Here are the highlights:

Improving Household Energy Performance

$1B is allocated for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to make cheaper loans available for 110,000 households to make their homes more energy efficient. This could include installing more efficient appliances, building envelope retrofits and electrification measures (e.g. battery-ready solar PV).

An additional $300M will support energy efficiency upgrades in 60,000 social housing dwellings, to be co-designed and co-funded with states and territories.

Small and medium businesses will receive tax-incentives to electrify and improve the energy efficiency of their business.

The government will also expand the Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme to apply home energy ratings to existing homes and expand and modernise the Greenhouse Energy Minimum Standards (GEMS), which provides energy ratings for consumer appliances.

While this is a welcome investment, much work needs to be done to ensure this electrification is rolled out in a safe regulated manner, protecting workers and the public from electrical hazards. The government must create a comprehensive workforce plan to support the domestic electrical industry to roll out a comprehensive household electrification program safely, and strict certification and procurement requirements for entities offering subsidised efficiency upgrades.

Green Hydrogen

The government will invest $2B in large-scale renewable hydrogen projects. This is projected to put Australia on track for 1GW of electrolyser capacity by 2030.

The government has also allocated funding to support First Nations people and businesses to engage with hydrogen project proponents, planning processes and program design.

Powering the Regions fund

This fund of $400M will support the decarbonisation of industrial facilities in regional areas, including rail and aviation, and help support new clean energy industries.

This is in addition to the previously announced $400M supporting decarbonisation of primary steel, cement, lime, aluminium and alumina industries; and $600M to assist decarbonising trade-exposed safeguard facilities.

There is also $14.5M funding to develop an offshore renewable energy industry growth strategy, $8.6M to review and implement the Safeguard Mechanism Reforms and $3.9M to explore policy options to stop companies outsourcing their production to countries with more relaxed emissions restraints, including a Carbon Border Adjustment Tax.

Support for the resources industry in transitioning to net zero

$40 million to support the Australian resources industry in transitioning to net zero.

$80.5 million to support the critical minerals industry to build diverse and competitive supply chains, attract international investment and transition to net zero.

Transport Emissions

$20.9M over 5 years for initiatives to decarbonise the transport and infrastructure sectors, including things like fuel efficiency standards and national charging infrastructure.

Manufacturing renewables

$14.8M to establish a Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre to help Australian businesses manufacture renewable technologies.

$5.6 million for further work before the end of 2023 on the best ways to leverage Australia’s competitive strengths in renewable energy, critical minerals and highly skilled workforce to accelerate other clean industrial and manufacturing capabilities.

Establishing the National Reconstruction Fund Corporation

The Government will provide $61.4 million over 4 years to establish the National Reconstruction Fund. This is a slight increase in the amount noted in the October budget, over a slightly longer time period. The NRFC will manage $15bn in investments into Australian industry.

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This article was publised on 18 May 2023.