The 2023 federal Budget gave us a few things to talk about on the technology front, but even more when it comes to energy, renewables and the climate.

There’s a lot to get through, so let’s dig in.

Powering Australia

In the 2023 Budget papers, ‘Powering Australia’ was mentioned 35 times in 210 pages. The first was for the government’s Electric Car Discount. The TL;DR is that the government will cut taxes on electric cars so that more Australians can afford them. From 1 July 2022, the measure will exempt battery, hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid electric cars from fringe benefits tax and import tariffs if they have a first retail price below the luxury car tax threshold for fuel-efficient cars.

The second is for the development of Australia’s seaweed farming, which will see $8.1 million invested over three years to support the commercialisation of seaweed as a low emissions feed. Interesting.

We’ve then got the ‘community batteries for household solar’ initiative, which will see $224.3 million earmarked to deploy 400 community batteries across Australia to lower bills, cut emissions and reduce pressure on the electricity grid “by allowing households to store and use excess power they produce”.

The establishment of the Driving the Nation Fund is next on the Powering Australia agenda, with $275.4 million to be used to invest in cheaper and cleaner transport. Another fund, called Powering the Regions, will have $1.9 billion set aside to help with the transition to net zero emissions.

As part of the 2023 Budget, the government will provide $20 billion in funding to establish ‘Rewiring the Nation’ to expand and modernise Australia’s electricity grids at lowest cost, “unlocking new renewables and storage capacity and driving down power prices”.

Another new Powering Australia initiative, ‘solar banks’, will see the investment of $102.2 million (over four years) to establish a Community Solar Banks program for the deployment of community-scale solar and clean energy technologies. The 2023 Budget papers say funding will improve access to clean energy technologies in regional communities, social housing, apartments, rental accommodation and households that are traditionally unable to access rooftop solar.

Back to cars for a second and the last Powering Australia play will see the government provide $15.9 million to reduce the level of emissions of the Australian Public Service through a low emissions vehicle target for the Commonwealth Fleet of 75 per cent of new passenger vehicle purchases and leases by 2025.

Elsewhere in the 2023 Budget

The government said it will provide $45.8 million to “restore Australia’s reputation” and “increase international engagement on climate change and energy transformation issues”.

$141.1 million has also been earmarked to invest in carbon capture technologies through a new initiative that will target emissions reduction. $20.3 million, meanwhile, will be used to establish an outreach program to “empower Australian farmers and land managers, including First Nations peoples, to participate in carbon markets and integrate low emission technologies and practices”.

$83.8 million has also been allocated to develop and deploy microgrid technology across First Nations communities, to increase access to cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy. The microgrid projects will be developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, First Nations clean energy experts and the states and territories, the government said. It will also invest $14.7 million into the protection of Australia’s cultural and First Nations heritage sites.

The 2023 Budget announces the spending of $9.3 million to build climate risk management capabilities and systems across the Australian Public Service and commence designing a National Climate Risk Assessment.

The government will provide $2.2 million towards developing and consulting on design and draft legislation for a Guarantee of Origin Certificate scheme, to track and verify emissions associated with renewable electricity, hydrogen and other low emissions commodities produced in Australia.

There’s also a couple of million to support Australia’s resources, such as critical minerals development, and there will be a focus on developing domestic manufacturing capabilities and plans to upskill the manufacturing sector workforce. $9.6 million will be used to support Australia’s workforce to transition to a clean energy economy and small businesses will get a share of $62.6 million to support them in funding energy efficient equipment upgrades. Elsewhere, $71.9 million will be spent delivering a new green hydrogen hub in the Townsville region of Queensland. The government said it will also be monitoring the Aussie gas market.

While it’ll cost the government $275.7 million to establish a strong Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, it will also be setting aside $15.9 million to establish the Torres Strait Climate Change Centre of Excellence to build the capability and capacity of Torres Strait Islander peoples to respond to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The National Energy Transformation Partnership will get $157.9 for a handful of initiatives that will “deliver cleaner and more secure and reliable energy for Australians”. While the 2023 Budget also provides $500,000 to develop an offshore renewable energy industry growth strategy to support the development of offshore renewable projects in Commonwealth waters.

Meanwhile, the Climate Change Authority will be funded to the tune of $47.1 million.

The government’s pre-election $1.2 billion commitment to the protection and restoration of the Great Barrier Reef got a shout out, too, but it said it’s ready, with $96 million, to get into it.

And lastly, another pre-election promise, the 2023 Budget allocates $224.5 million over four years to support actions to slow the rate of environmental and native species decline and lay the foundations for longer-term support and recovery of Australia’s native species and special landscapes.

You can find all of these measures, and more, in the 2022-23 Budget papers. Head over here for all of the technology-related announcements.

Keyword: Powering Australia: The 2023 Federal Budget Climate Announcements, Summarised


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