CSIRO releases roadmap to low emissions future

CSIRO has released its Low Emissions Technology Roadmap outlining the technology options to meet emission reduction goals and steer Australia towards a secure energy future.

The roadmap was prepared for the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy to provide input to the Government’s 2017 Climate Policy Review.

“The Roadmap explores major shifts in electricity generation and energy use in buildings, industry and transport out to 2050,” a joint statement from Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Arthur Sinodinos.

“In doing so it makes clear that there are a range of possible future technology pathways and that each of them presents its own challenges and opportunities.”

The roadmap analyses how changes in the electricity, industrial energy and transport sectors could help Australia meet or exceed its emissions reduction target for 2030 and contribute to further decarbonisation to 2050.

It also explores the potential economic opportunities that exist for Australian industry through deployment of relevant technologies or by participating in growing low emission fuel and technology supply chains.

It takes a ‘technology neutral’ approach and presents four options or ‘pathways’ to decarbonisation of the energy sector, which currently accounts for 79 per cent of Australia’s emissions.

“In the midst of disruptive change within the energy sector, we must address the ‘energy trilemma’ of security, affordability and sustainability,” CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said.

“We can’t navigate the bumpy road of change without this Roadmap, using science to re-invent roadblocks into freeways.

“We think of coal as the past, but what if we could reinvent it into the feedstock for hydrogen?

“We think of lithium-ion batteries as the storage solution, but what if we could use chemical storage like ammonia which also offers safe transport and distribution using existing liquid infrastructure?

“CSIRO’s Strategy 2020 is dedicated to using science to navigate Australia’s industries, both traditional and emerging, into a brighter economic future enlightened by innovation.”

CSIRO Energy chief economist Paul Graham noted that improvements in technology are often hard to predict, but Australia’s diverse energy resources mean we can exploit new opportunities as they arise.

“History shows we are poor predictors of technological innovation – for example, at the start of this century no one thought solar photovoltaics would be a cost effective source of low emission electricity – but if we keep our options open, we have the opportunity to position Australia to achieve its emission targets and contribute to new global low emission energy supply chains,” Mr Graham said.

Mr Frydenberg said the government would consider the implications of the roadmap as part of its response to the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market and the 2017 review of climate policies.