Rewriting government funding laws allowing for carbon capture from fossil fuel projects could lead to greater emissions reductions, experts say, but they warn against political interference in independent decisions that would risk advantaging fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.
On Tuesday, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor accepted recommendations released in the King review of the Climate Solutions Fund, a $2 billion fund for low-emissions energy and industrial projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The review said legislation governing the Climate Solutions Fund, as well the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency should be changed to a "technology-neutral remit so they can support key technologies across all sectors". This would include carbon capture and storage, which the agencies are currently specifically prohibited from funding.
Frank Jotzo, director of Australian National University Centre for Climate and Energy Policy said a technology-neutral approach could deliver "big steps" in new low-emissions technologies in industries where climate action has been slow such as freight transport, aviation and manufacturing.
Technology neutrality would include carbon capture and storage projects that take emissions from gas and coal plants out of the air and store them underground. But Professor Jotzo said the attractive economics of renewable projects have seen wind and solar power become the "default for new investments in Australia's energy supply".
However, he warned unless "investment choice is not politicised" there would be a risk that carbon capture received "too large a share of funding".