NERA confirmed as first Industry Growth Centre to close

Brandon How

National Energy Resources Australia is the first Industry Growth Centre to announce it will shut down after federal funding is discontinued in July.

In its seven years of operation, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) used its $15.6 million project fund to generate $45 million investment in 60 projects.

The growth centre for oil, gas, and energy resources established a network of 5,400 organisations across the energy resources sector facilitating collaboration on decarbonisation across the energy resources sector.

It is one of six growth centres were expected to transition to self-funding within four years. Government support for the centres was extended by just under $19 million over two years in December 2021.

NERA chief executive Miranda Taylor

Federal funding for the growth centres is ending despite a review of the program finding “ample evidence to suggest that the [Industry Growth Centre Initiative] is supporting Australian industries to become more competitive, resilient and sustainable”.

Industry and Science minister Ed Husic previously accused the former Coalition government of wanting to “kill those Growth Centres off”. The Albanese government’s 2022-23 federal budget did not contain any additional funding for the initiative.

Before NERA shuts down, it will continue development of a model for a coordinating body for the offshore wind sector, in collaboration with governments, industry, and other key stakeholders.

“Australia must deploy renewable energy at an unprecedented rate to reach net zero by 2050, and offshore wind will play a key role in the renewable energy mix required to achieve this target,” NERA chief executive Miranda Taylor said.

“NERA intends to use its knowledge and skill set to help Australia establish a coordinating body to facilitate joint action between governments, industry, regulators and the scientific community.”

The federal government passed enabling legislation for offshore wind in November 2022, with Gippsland, Victoria expected to host Australia’s first offshore windfarm zone.

Ms Taylor said that during the growth centre’s lifetime, it has leveraged low emissions and digital technologies to support Australia’s energy transformation while growing innovative SMEs and supply chains.

“Over the past seven years, NERA has established itself as a trusted collaboration partner to industry, technology developers, cooperative research centres, research organisations, regulators and policy makers at both the State and Federal levels,” she said.

“NERA has been one of the drivers behind the growth of the hydrogen, subsea, ocean energy and decommissioning clusters and centres, and has played a pivotal role in establishing the Future Energy Exports CRC and facilitating the work program of the WA Government’s LNG Jobs Taskforce.

“Most recently, NERA worked with industry partners to establish the Centre of Decommissioning Australia (CODA), Australia’s first dedicated centre to drive excellence in offshore infrastructure re-use and decommissioning, which is now its own standalone entity.

The Hydrogen Technology Cluster Australia was also formed by the group. It is working with the Australian Hydrogen Council to develop the hydrogen equipment, technology, and services industry.

Although federal funding for the original six growth centres is coming to an end, consultation for the establishment of a Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre that will focus on the development of manufacturing for renewable energy technologies is ongoing.

AustCyber, the cybersecurity growth centre, was the first to reach self-sufficiency, having been acquired by innovation co-working space and accelerator Stone and Chalk in February 2021.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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