ARENA launches US$28 million programme to decarbonise Australian industrial sector


ARENA has invested in a range of schemes that are exploring how Australia can decarbonise its society while driving down the cost of energy. Image: ARENA

Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has launched a AUS$43 million (US$27.7 million) Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program aimed at identifying opportunities to reduce energy costs and emissions in the country’s industrial sector.

Announced as part of Australia’s 2020-21 Federal Budget, the programme is the latest in a series of grant funding ARENA has provided Australian organisations as it looks to drive down the cost of renewable generation and slash its emissions.  

Funding will be provided in two streams to support feasibility studies and engineering studies in order to establish the business case for replicable projects that demonstrate energy efficiency and renewable energy technology solutions for industry, ARENA said in a statement.

It will be made available to companies and organisations in the agriculture, mining, manufacturing, gas supply, water supply, waste services and data centre sectors, all of which are high emission and hard to abate sectors.

“Renewable energy adoption by industry can also be supported with energy storage including batteries, thermal and material storage and technologies that enable greater flexibility and responsiveness of energy demand, such as digitalisation and enhanced controls,” ARENA said.

“Whether it’s by integrating renewable energy into existing processes or increasing energy efficiency to minimise energy demand and cost, the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program will identify credible and innovative solutions to the challenge of reducing emissions in industry,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.

And this is not the only scheme ARENA is supporting. In June, it invested US$31 million in the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) to support its solar research through to 2030, while in January it announced it was providing AU$40 million in funding to support research and development (R&D) that can help Australia reach its ‘ultra-low cost solar’ goal.

On top of this, ARENA has previously funded a number of projects aimed at reducing emissions in the industrial sector, including A2EP’s Renewable Energy for Process Heat Opportunity study, Shell Energy’s Advancing Renewables in the Manufacturing Sector studies  program and ClimateWorks’ Energy Transition Initiative program to accelerate decarbonisation across the whole industrial supply chain.

Meanwhile, Australia’s renewable sector has been boosted recently by the election of its new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, in May who has pledged to make the country a renewables “superpower” and has locked in Australia’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2050.

Applicants to the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program can seek AUS$100,000 to AUS$500,000 (US$65,000-322,000) for feasibility studies or AUS$250,000 to AUS$5 million (US$161,000-3.2 million) for engineering studies.

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