Utilising industry-led and technology-driven innovation to build business resilience, unlock resources productivity and create employment opportunities are the critical pathways to economic recovery from COVID-19, according to National Energy Resources Australia’s (NERA) latest energy sector report.
Releasing the 2020 update of the ‘Sector Competitiveness Plan’, NERA has identified priority areas of action for the energy resources sector to assist Australia’s communities and the economy to rebuild from the global pandemic.
Central to recovery efforts is the urgent need for coherent, targeted and long-term energy and resources policies developed collaboratively between governments and industry over a 10-year horizon to improve productivity performance and manage the energy transition, including providing access to energy for a global population heading toward 9 billion by 2050. However, Australia’s ability to achieve this energy future requires industry to be globally competitive and grow, enabled by structural change to the economy and developing the country’s R&D, innovation and invention into scalable, commercial and high value outcomes.
NERA CEO Miranda Taylor said in the midst of any crisis lies the opportunity for transformation. Australia can seize this once-in-a-generation window to drive structural economic change and growth, improve industry–government collaboration and accelerate the commercialisation and deployment of innovation (such as AI, automation and robotics and low emissions technologies) across industry sectors where the country has a competitive and/or strategic advantage. These technologies should form Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector of the future.
Ms Taylor said: “On the energy front, the narrative in Australia has been destructively binary in recent years. Instead, Australia’s energy future needs to be an inclusive story of ‘…and, and, and’ rather than ‘either, or’. Our recovery must reflect this diversity and leverage all of our energy resources and enabling innovations and technologies.
“Gas and coal, coupled with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), will continue to play an important role in helping Australia navigate the energy transition; however, critical minerals, coupled with batteries, and renewables including solar, wind and hydrogen coupled with advanced digital technologies are central to our energy future. This needs to be backed by coordinated and targeted policies that attract investment, build competitive markets and create growth and jobs.
“As Australia’s Industry Growth Centre for energy resources, NERA is already taking action to assist the Australian government and industry by driving the development of new high-value and export-focussed commercialisation opportunities around automation and digital technologies, unlocking value from data and promoting cross industry sector knowledge sharing.”
NERA has identified key priority areas that require urgent action, including the following:
- Accelerate the commercialisation and adoption of digital and automation technologies across the energy resources sector.
- Fast-track advanced and low-emissions technologies to manage Australia’s energy transition and assist the nation to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets. Large-scale deployment of carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) will be vital to reduce the world’s emissions and to secure the future of Australia’s existing energy and other industries.
- Develop more technology-driven SME and scale-up supply chain communities.
- Remove regulatory barriers to future growth by identifying and removing high impact regulatory barriers to unlock productive resources for Australia.
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