$14m battery growth centre to be run by CRC

Brandon How

The Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre will be run by a cooperative research centre, with the Albanese government awarding $14 million to the WA-based Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre.

Industry and Science minister Ed Husic announced the funding for the CRC on Friday, delivering on a commitment made ahead of the 2022 election to help business manufacture renewable energy technologies locally.

The Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre is expected to adopt the same model as the Industry Growth Centres, which were de-funded despite a pledge by Mr Husic to retain the former Coalition government program.

Government funding for the initiative ceased in July 2022, but the six Industry Growth Centres were given a further year to spend any remaining government funds.

While it was expected that the centres would transition to self-sufficiency, the lack of government funding has already seen the closure of National Energy Resources Australia, the oil, gas, and energy resource growth centre.

The Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre, funded in the 2023 federal Budget until 2026-27, was won by the Future Battery Industry Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC), based out of Curtin University.

Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre chief executive Shannon O’Rourke

The new Industry Growth Centre will fund activities and provide services to support the commercialisation of “renewable energy technologies and ideas”, with a particular focus on batteries, while encouraging “connections between critical minerals producers and renewable technology manufacturers”.

A First Nations advisor will also be appointed to develop First Nations business management capabilities for renewable technologies.

The new industry growth centre was announced in May 2022 under the Australia Made Battery Plan. The government’s National Battery Strategy is expected to be released in coming weeks.

FBICRC subsidiary Powering Australia Limited will receive the grant and operate the new Industry Growth Centre, although it is expected to share staffing resources and infrastructure with the FBICRC.

The FBICRC’s $25 million of funding will run out in June 2025, with the team currently bidding for additional funding through the CRC program to transition into an Energy Storage CRC.

In a statement, Industry and Science minister Ed Husic said “batteries, renewables and other low-emissions technologies offer huge opportunities for Australian industry to create jobs and the sovereign capabilities critical to our economic success”.

The announcement landed as the government finalises its response to growing competition in the renewable energy value chain and battery metal producers face significant cost pressure from a collapse in commodity prices.

According to a 2023 report commissioned by the FBICRC, a diversified battery value chain could be worth up to $16.9 billion by 2030, with appropriate policy settings and international economic alliances.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will deliver a speech on Friday evening setting the stage for a clean energy technology policy package in response to “unprecedented investments the United States and the European Union and Japan and Korea are making in their industrial bases”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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