Both houses of Australia’s parliament have approved plans to create an A$15 billion ($10 billion) National Reconstruction Fund to support domestic production in industries of the future and reduce the country’s reliance on imports.
The Australian federal government’s A$15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF), which aims to increase investment in onshore manufacturing, including the production of solar panels, batteries and hydrogen electrolysers, is being strengthened into law after the bill was passed in the Senate and Senate. house earlier this week.
Federal Industry Minister Ed Husic said the fund was “one of the largest peacetime investments in Australian manufacturing capacity”. He argued the legislation would pave the way for Australia to increase high-value manufacturing and jobs.
“The most successful modern economies are built on strong, advanced manufacturing capabilities,” he said. “The NRF will help deliver this for Australia. We want Australia to be a country that gets things done, a nation that believes in its skills and ability to get the job done.”
The NRF co-invests in projects in a number of strategic sectors, including renewable energy and low-emission technologies, resource value-added, agriculture, transport, defense capabilities and critical technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics.
The fund is managed by an independent board that makes independent investment decisions following the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) “co-investment model” model, and the board plans to partner with companies and pension funds to unlock further potential private investment. over A$30 billion through the fund.
The federal government will contribute AUD 5 billion to the fund, with AUD 10 billion in mid-2029. The government has earmarked up to AUD 3 billion of the NRF’s original AUD 15 billion for the manufacture of renewable energy sources and low-emission technologies.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the NRF would revitalize industries that had been allowed to lag and provide a welcome boost to Australia’s renewable energy technology and know-how.
“Australia has all the resources that go into solar panels, batteries and other finished products,” he said. “We should be making them here. And that’s what this investment is all about. It means safer jobs and more world-class products made in Australia.”
While the legislation has been widely welcomed, Glen Ryan, founder of Perth-based solar energy innovator Sunovate, said more needed to be done to guarantee companies looking to develop clean energy technology in Australia.
Ryan, who is also behind West Australian ocean energy company Bombora Wave Power, which was moved offshore to seek financial support and backing, said the government needed to set tough targets to support the clean energy industry or risk losing jobs, export potential and technology options. .
“I’ve had to watch too many cleantech ideas, including my own, have to leave our shores to get our feet up,” Ryan said in a LinkedIn post. “We need tough goals so that we can guarantee the profitability of a sustainable project and investable projects. We need tough goals to get investments in technology platforms that serve projects. Only then will we have a basis to consider local manufacturing opportunities.”
Melbourne-based Wave Swell Energy recently announced it is unlikely to base its technology in Australia despite a successful trial due to a lack of political and financial support. Ryan said this is a perfect example of the challenges facing clean energy companies.
“Here we go again,” Ryan said. “Another Australian innovative wave energy device looking for continued support overseas.”
Wave Swell Energy CEO Paul Geason told the ABC he was pleased with the results of the 12-month trial off the coast of Tasmania’s King Island. He said he believes that technology will become an important part of future global electricity generation.
Geason said the company was now looking to expand, but despite the success of the pilot, which was awarded A$4.03 million in federal funding, the company plans to look to overseas markets because both lack incentives. state and national governments.
“We are an Australian, Tasmanian invention. Australia is an important market for us … we would very much like to set up here,” he said. “Ideally, Australia would become the world’s leading production capacity for these wave energy converters. But right now… there are other markets in the world that have developed further. Frankly, it would be irresponsible not to participate in these opportunities.”