Harnessing industry-led and technology-driven innovation to build business resilience, unlock resources productivity and create employment opportunities are the critical pathways to economic recovery from COVID-19, highlights National Energy Resources Australia’s (NERA) recent energy sector report.
In releasing the 2020 update of the Sector Competitiveness Plan, NERA has identified priority areas of action for the $93.1 billion energy resources sector to assist Australia’s communities and the economy rebuild from the global pandemic.
Central to recovery efforts is the critical need for coherent, targeted and long-term energy and resources policies developed collaboratively between governments and industry over a 10-year horizon to improve productivity performance and manage the energy transition, including providing access to energy for a global population heading toward 9 billion by 2050.
According to NERA, Australia’s ability to achieve this energy future requires industry to be globally competitive and grow, enabled by structural change to the economy and developing its R&D, innovation and invention into scalable, commercial and high-value outcomes.
NERA CEO, Miranda Taylor, says that in the midst of any crisis lies the opportunity for transformation.
“Australia can seize this once-in-a-generation window to drive structural economic change and growth, improve industry-government collaboration and accelerate the commercialisation and deployment of innovation (such as AI, automation and robotics and low emissions technologies) across industry sectors where we have a competitive and/or strategic advantage.”
“On the energy front, the narrative in Australia has been destructively binary in recent years. Instead, Australia’s energy future needs to be an inclusive story of ‘…and, and, and’ rather than ‘either, or’. Our recovery must reflect this diversity and leverage all of our energy resources and enabling innovations and technologies.”
Ms Taylor notes that gas and coal, coupled with carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), will continue to play an important role in helping Australia navigate the energy transition. Critical minerals, coupled with batteries, and renewables including solar, wind and hydrogen coupled with advanced digital technologies are central to our energy future.
“This needs to be backed by coordinated and targeted policies that attract investment, build competitive markets and create growth and jobs,” she says.
“As Australia’s Industry Growth Centre for energy resources, NERA is already taking action to assist the Australian Government and industry by driving the development of new high-value and export-focused commercialisation opportunities around automation and digital technologies, unlocking value from data and promoting cross-industry sector knowledge sharing.”
Today, NERA is working with over 3,600 organisations and supports more than 50 lighthouse energy resources projects that directly address major challenges for the sector. These include reducing barriers to growth and accelerating technology advancement through transformational initiatives, such as industry clusters (e.g. Subsea Innovation Cluster Australia, Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth and the Australian Ocean Energy Group), hubs (e.g. CORE Innovation Hub), test labs (e.g. ERDi I4.0 Test Lab), research initiatives (e.g. National Decommissioning Research Initiative), and supply chain development programs (e.g. SME ConnectER).
In addition to NERA’s sector-wide programs and initiatives, key priority areas that require urgent action include:
- Accelerating the commercialisation and adoption of digital and automation technologies across the energy resources sector, the impact of which in the mining and oil and gas industries alone has the potential to add $74 billion in value to the national economy by 2030 and create more than 80,000 new jobs.
- Fast-tracking advanced and low-emissions technologies to manage Australia’s energy transition and assist the nation to meet its carbon emissions reduction targets. Large-scale deployment of CCUS will be vital to reduce the world’s emissions and to secure the future of Australia’s existing energy and other industries.
- Developing more technology-driven SME and scale-up supply chain communities, which were the key learnings from NERA’s recently-released report, Growing Australia’s oil and gas supply chain, which found that by resolving growth challenges, Australia’s oil and gas suppliers can capture an additional $7 billion of value (GVA) by 2030, generating up to $49 billion to the economy.
- Removing regulatory barriers to future growth by identifying and removing high impact regulatory barriers to unlock productive resources for Australia. In decommissioning alone, improved application of the regulatory framework has the potential to support more than $5 billion in efficiency savings and save Australian taxpayers +$2 billion in reduced offsets.
NERA’s 2020 Sector Competitiveness Plan update follows the release of the inaugural SCP in 2017 and aims to assist the sector to respond to unprecedented challenges from new technologies, unique business models and the transition to a decarbonised economy. It can be accessed online here.