Australian Embassy
The Philippines

Speech110622 6th Asia Clean Energy Forum 2011- Remarks by Ambassador Rod Smith

6th Asia Clean Energy Forum 2011
New Business Models and Policy Drivers -- Building the Low-Carbon Future
Remarks by Ambassador Rod Smith
22 June 2011

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be able to join you tonight at the Asia Clean Energy Forum for 2011.

I would like to acknowledge (VIPs) executive directors and representatives of the Asian Development Bank, World Resources Institute and USAid, as well as our co-sponsors from Japan, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.

I would like to warmly welcome the delegates, including representatives of business, Philippine and foreign governments, and multilateral organisations.

Tonight’s reception has been sponsored by the Australian Trade Commission, or Austrade – the Australian Government’s trade and investment development agency. I would like to make special mention of Austrade’s Clean Energy and Environment team, which joins us here tonight.

To open tonight’s reception, I’d like to give you a brief overview of Australia’s clean energy landscape, and initiatives of the Australian government to help promote and develop clean energy technology.

Climate change has clear and tangible effects on the global environment. Like many other nations with distinctive and fragile ecosystems, and a historical reliance on agricultural production, Australians’ lifestyles, livelihoods and well-being are founded in large part on the health of our environment.

Enhanced use of renewable energy is one way to address the challenges of climate change. Renewable energy – primarily hydroelectricity – currently accounts for 7 percent of Australia's total electricity supply. Wood waste and bagasse also contribute significantly to Australia's renewables mix, and wind energy output is growing strongly from a small base.

Abundant renewable energy resources offer great hope for the future. In our sun-burnt landscape, the potential for solar energy is clear. Likewise under the Outback soil, vast areas of 'hot rocks' offer significant potential for the development of dry geothermal energy. Our extensive unspoilt coastline offers great potential for wave energy generation.

To help Australian and foreign investors take advantage of these resources, the Australian Government actively promotes the usage and development of renewable energy. Three key policies which contribute to supporting uptake of renewable energy in Australia are the Renewable Energy Target, Clean Energy Initiative, and the Connecting Renewables Initiative.

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) requires electricity generators to source 20 per cent of energy from clean sources by 2020. That would equate to approximately 41 thousand gigawatt hours of renewable energy, or a four-fold increase in Australia’s current use of renewable energy.

Australia’s Renewable Energy Target is expected to unlock $20 billion in investment for new renewable energy projects and accelerate the deployment of a range of mature renewable energy technologies, particularly wind.

Secondly the Government’s $5 billion Clean Energy Initiative (CEI) provides significant investment in the research, development and demonstration of low emission technologies with several elements supporting renewable energy technologies. Key elements of the Clean Energy Initiative are the $1.8 billion Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Flagships program, the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program and the $150 million Australian Solar Institute (ASI).

Thirdly, the Connecting Renewables Initiative will invest $1 billion over the next decade in electricity networks to facilitate connecting renewable energy projects to the grid. $100 million has been committed for the first four years from 2010/11. The Connecting Renewables Initiative aims to accelerate the development of transmission infrastructure that supports the connection of renewables generation that otherwise would not proceed without Australian Government support.

Taken together, these programs create an environment highly conducive to the research, development and commercialisation of renewable energy technology, by overseas and Australian actors alike.

From afar, though our economy is open and our markets competitive, such opportunities are not always simple to access. The Australian Trade Commission has role to play in facilitating the linkages which promote development of clean energy technology. For overseas investors Austrade can assist in informing about commercial opportunities in Australia, and help industry to capitalise on government support. For Australian companies, Austrade offers advice and support for emerging exporters in sectors including energy-efficient products and services, low-emission technologies, carbon capture and storage, and clean coal technology.

Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, I wish you great success in the workshops and plenary sessions of the Asia Clean Energy Forum over the next two days. Your mission is an important one, and your vision one which I think we all share.