Clean energy superpower status remains work in progress

Extra billions have been committed to "renewable superpower" status in a federal budget update as Australia tries to keep its climate commitments and control rising power bills.

The update released by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Wednesday said the government is "capitalising on the net zero transition" and "strengthening domestic resilience" through its plan to become a renewable energy superpower.

Energy bill rebates for around five million households and one million small businesses reduced quarterly growth in electricity prices by 14.4 percentage points in the September quarter of 2023, according to official data. 

Dr Chalmers said the cost of living relief is "making a meaningful difference" and also took half a percentage point off inflation.

But the update acknowledges more work is needed to secure "sufficient" renewable energy generation, transmission and storage, and to decarbonise the economy and build new industries.

Australia signed up to a global pledge at the COP28 climate summit to triple renewable energy capacity and boost energy efficiency by 2030.

But industry leaders fear Australia will not only fail to meet its renewable energy target of 82 per cent by 2030, but is off the required pace on cutting emissions in heavily polluting sectors such as transport and agriculture.

The mid-year budget update adds $3 billion to the $40 billion already committed under federal Labor, but contained no surprises.

Some $2.5 billion will support the Critical Minerals Strategy 2023-2030, including an additional $2 billion in funding for the Critical Minerals Facility and $500 million for critical minerals projects in northern Australia.

Funding of $359 million over four years will support clean industries and broader decarbonisation, including an expansion of the Capacity Investment Scheme to overhaul the electricity grid.

An allocation of $5.4 million will fund battery supply chain collaboration with the United States.

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