CANBERRA, AAP – The expanded remit of Australia’s green bank sends a positive signal to investors to back critical low emission technologies, industry groups say.
But Energy Minister Angus Taylor could face more strife over his bid to spend taxpayer dollars on fossil fuel technology such as carbon capture and storage and hydrogen produced using gas.
The federal government’s technology road map requires taxpayer money to be spent on carbon capture and storage, steel and aluminium made using renewable energy, soil as a carbon sink, wind and solar storage and hydrogen.
On Wednesday it faced down a second attempt to block new regulations to expand the remit of the green bank, but some renewables groups are willing to run legal challenges through the courts.
“If Minister Taylor thinks this is over he is wrong,” Greens leader Adam Bandt told AAP on Thursday.
“This regulation is unlawful and the government is just trying to deliver for fossil fuel donors.”
But Minerals Council chief executive Tania Constable said confirmation by the Senate of the expanded regulations would benefit Australia’s decarbonisation efforts.
“ARENA has become a vital institution in Australia’s efforts to drive emissions reduction and combat climate change,” she said.
The federal government redrafted regulations to expand the remit of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency after a first attempt was stymied two months ago by Labor and the Greens.
Industry group Low Emission Technology Australia chief executive Mark McCallum said pragmatic policy decisions such as broadening ARENA’s investment scope will help achieve targets.
“The more we can encourage investment, the faster we can bring these technologies to commercial scale, reduce costs and transition to a low carbon economy,” he said.
The federal government expects to generate more than $80 billion in private and public investment over the next decade in technologies that reduce and remove emissions from hard-to-abate sectors
The regulations which survived Wednesday’s vote will allow ARENA to invest in low emissions technologies including carbon capture and storage and hydrogen made with using fossil fuel generated energy.
But there is still some doubt about whether One Nation’s vote was recorded as intended, as Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts have previously had a bet each way on the green bank’s new remit.
An absent Senator Hanson allowed the Greens-Labor motion to be defeated.
“The whole thing is a moving feast,” Mr Bandt said.