Coalition-era $1bn fund rebadged to support clean energy tech

The Albanese government will funnel $500 million into the commercialisation of clean energy technologies through a rebadged version of a $1 billion fund first proposed by the former Coalition government.

But the new fund will not be available for carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear technologies, in line with legislation governing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) which will administer the fund.

Legislation to create the Powering Australia Technology Fund, as well as implement the government’s Rewiring the Nation election commitment, was introduced to Parliament by Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones on Wednesday morning.

The omnibus Treasury Laws Amendment (2022 Measures No. 4) Bill will also enact the video game development tax offset scheme and $1.5 billion in SME tax breaks for tech upgrades and skills promised in the March Budget.

The Powering Australia Technology Fund has its origins in the former government’s Low Emissions Technology Commercialisation Fund, announced in November 2021.

The fund was expected to support “complex, tech-focus startups” to develop new low emissions technology, such as emission-reducing livestock feed, low emissions steel and battery cell improvements.

But the Coalition failed to introduce legislation required to unlock the funding for the fund before Parliament was prorogued for the May election, despite pledging to do so when announcing the fund.

The Powering Australia Technology Fund, as introduced to Parliament on Wednesday, will similarly “support the growth or expansion of clean energy technology projects, businesses and entities, including via venture capital and growth capital”.

The bill does not outline which clean energy technologies will be prioritised, but understands low emission technology investment decisions will be in line with CEFC technology eligibility rules.

CCS technology, nuclear technology and nuclear power are prohibited under the CEFC Act.

The private sector is expected to tip in “at least” another $500 million to the fund, bringing its total value to $1 billion, which Energy and Climate Change minister Chris Bowen said would “help Australian businesses… scale up creative projects using clean energy technologies”.

“The Albanese Government is ensuring the world’s largest green bank can continue to support the commercialisation of innovative new technologies, such as energy-efficient smart city sensors and innovations in solar arrays and battery technologies,” he said in a statement.

“While we excel in research, Australia has been losing out for too long when it comes to commercialisation. We need to continue developing innovative technologies that will help power Australia, and realising more of their economic benefits here.”

Last month, the government kicked off its $20 billion Rewiring the National initiative, pledging around $7 billion in support for transmission infrastructure across Tasmania and Victoria.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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