Australia elevates EVs, solar in GHG reduction plan

  • : Electricity, Emissions, Hydrogen, Metals
  • 21/11/03

The Australian federal government has elevated the role of electric vehicles (EVs) and low-cost solar technology in attaining its ambition of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Low-cost solar will also be used to underpin plans to develop a domestic hydrogen industry using renewable energy.

Australia has updated its GHG emissions reduction plan, adding three more areas of focus. It will develop polices and provide state financing for lowering the cost of solar technology, support EV technology and deployment, as well as provide timelines for parity for the costs of solar and EV with prevailing technology.

Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel-cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will become price competitive over the next 5-10 years as the world's largest vehicle manufacturers increasingly commit to their development, the government's latest report said.

"Investment is required to prepare for a rapid increase in the number of consumers choosing BEVs and FCEVs, and to ensure enough charging and refuelling stations are made available to meet demand," it said.

The report did not provide any target for EV deployment in Australia. But a separate government report last week has EVs accounting for 30pc of new car sales in Australia by 2030 from less than 1pc in 2019 under a baseline scenario and 61pc by the end of the decade under a high-technology scenario.

Road transport fuels form the bulk of Australia's near 1mn b/d demand, most of which is imported. Transport has also been one of the fastest increasing sources of its GHG emissions, up by almost two-thirds during 1990-19, according to its latest audited emissions accounts filed with the UN.

Australia has not joined other countries in setting a timeline to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles. But including EVs as part of its emissions reduction targets marks a shift for Australia's current government that has no plans to reduce its reliance on fossil fuel exports such as LNG and thermal coal. It also noted that the country could benefit economically from the energy transition as Australia is a significant producer of copper, nickel and lithium that are used in batteries.

Cutting production costs

Canberra has focused on lowering solar power costs, driven by a strategy to cut production costs for hydrogen made from renewable energy, also known as green hydrogen. Its Solar 30 30 30 plan aims to achieve 30pc efficiency at A$0.30 ($0.23) per installed watt by 2030.

"Getting solar power down to less than A$15/MWh, a third of today's cost, will be critical to reducing electricity sector emissions, but also in unlocking the potential of other low-emissions technologies like clean hydrogen," Australian energy minister Angus Taylor said in a speech at the UN Cop 26 climate conference in the UK's Glasgow.

Ultra low-cost clean electricity is also key to meeting the goals for Australian's other ambitions of lowering GHG emissions such as low-emissions steel and aluminium, along with electrical energy for storage for firming power generation.

Australia has ambitions to emerge as hydrogen producer and exporter. It aims to use green hydrogen to aid the decarbonisation of other sectors such as heavy haulage fuel cell EVs, ammonia as a chemical feedstock for making fertilizer and fuel for shipping and co-firing for electricity generation in countries like Japan.

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