Ms Andrews alluded to the government’s preference for investment stimulus over subsidy.
“This investment is a perfect example of how the Morrison government is taking climate action now, without dipping into the pockets of hard-working Australians,” she said.
“Supporting cutting-edge energy technology and research is a sure-fire path to lower emissions, cheaper power and a reliable grid.”
Last month, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor foreshadowed the government’s promised “technology road map” for emissions reduction required under the Paris climate agreement.
RACE for 2030 will not write the technology road map policy, but its research will inform its development.
Mr Taylor has ruled out subsidising new wind and solar power, saying the government would look to the “next challenges”, such as hydrogen; carbon capture and storage; lithium; advanced livestock feed supplements; and carbon sequestration in vegetation.
He said on Sunday when announcing RACE for 2030 that “technology, not taxes, will be the way we deliver practical action on emissions reduction”.
Australia is already a world leader in rooftop solar, with panels installed on 2.2 million homes. The Australian Energy Market Operator forecasts rooftop solar could generate 25 per cent of energy consumed by 2040.
But to get there, new policies, infrastructure and power metering are needed. That’s where Race for 2030 comes in.
Experts say a distributed energy grid dominated by renewables and backed by batteries would slash power bills. RACE for 2030 has estimated saving up to 25 per cent.
A 2017 report by the CSIRO on the evolution of the electricity network found that with good planning, by 2050 a distributed energy grid would pay up to $2.5 billion a year to customers who supplied power back to the network and deliver average household savings of $414 a year.
While smart power meters are already being rolled out to businesses and houses, the next step is smart switches that can reduce costs to consumers in return for allowing retailers to tap into internet-connected equipment and appliances to reduce consumption at agreed times.
The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics forecasts 60 per cent of new cars sales will be electric by 2046. RACE for 2030 will develop a “national road map for integrating electric vehicle smart charging into the grid”.
Under the Paris Agreement, Australia committed to reducing emissions by at least 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. On the current trajectory, the federal government will have to use controversial “carryover” credits gained under the previous Kyoto Protocol to achieve half of its Paris target.
Race for 2030 chief executive Jonathan Jutsen said it would be “Australia’s largest research effort focusing on both reducing energy bills and cutting emissions”.
Mike is the climate and energy correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.