Half a billion dollar battery boost for Australia

More than $530 million will be committed to make more batteries domestically and turn Australia into a sector leader.

Photo: Diego Fedele/AAP

Photo: Diego Fedele/AAP

The federal government unveiled its national battery strategy on Thursday, in an attempt to increase manufacturing in the industry as global demand is set to quadruple by the end of the decade.

The strategy comes as potential sites for nuclear power stations have emerged as part of an opposition proposal, which has already seen pushback from state leaders.

The battery strategy will be spearheaded by a $532 million initiative to promote more manufacturing of the power units in Australia.

Industry Minister Ed Husic said while Australia provided a lot of minerals for battery making, the manufacturing was often done overseas.

He said it was crucial for Australia to take charge of the whole process.

“We’re very good at mining and refining, a lot of the processing is done in China. We can do a lot more of this onshore,” he said.

“What we’re trying to (do) through the strategy is open people’s eyes to the fact that we have been a leader in technology supporting batteries and we should be able to do more.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the battery strategy was part of a broader manufacturing push as part of the Future Made in Australia initiative.

“Batteries are a critical ingredient in Australia’s clean energy mix,” he said.

“Together with renewable energy, green hydrogen and critical minerals, we will meet Australia’s emission reduction targets and create a strong, clean energy manufacturing industry.”

Greens leader Adam Bandt said the battery plan was undermined by the government committing to coal and gas projects.

“Even just one new gas mine could wipe out any gains from people putting more batteries and solar in their homes,” he said.

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“Batteries and gas are competing for the same role in the energy transition. The government has to choose what it wants: batteries here or dirty coal and gas beyond 2050, because they can’t choose both.”

The federal opposition has come under pressure to provide detail over its plan to build nuclear power plants.

The locations of up to seven nuclear sites are set to be unveiled in weeks in areas where coal or gas-fired power stations were located.

The areas earmarked include sites in the NSW Hunter Valley, Latrobe Valley in Victoria, Collie in Western Australia and Port Augusta in South Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald has reported.

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan ruled out any plan to allow nuclear energy in the state.

“We know renewable energy is the way forward, not these risky, toxic and expensive alternatives that been put about by the same group of people who have denied climate change was a thing,” she told reporters.

Federal opposition energy spokesman Ted O’Brien said nuclear could play a large role in the energy grid.

“As coal exits the system for our electricity grid, there’s an opportunity for us to replace it with like-for-like, 24/7, always-on power, coming from zero-emissions nuclear energy plants,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

O’Brien also criticised a CSIRO report which found nuclear energy would be significantly more expensive than wind or solar, costing at least $8.5 billion.

“The report is a report for investors who want to make a buck. It’s not for consumers who want to save a buck,” he said.


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