Development of new technology our strength not manufacturing



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Martin Ferguson - Australia's Energy and Resources Future

Minister for Energy, Resources and Tourism Martin Ferguson opened the 32nd State of the Nation highlighting that Australia needs to invest where our strengths lie in clean energy - research, development and deployment of new technology.

Mr Ferguson said we need to secure a share of the growing renewables market because it was unlikely we'd be able to compete with China in manufacturing.

On questioning from the audience, Mr Ferguson said developing cutting edge clean energy technology was where the dollars would be for Australia.

He said while there would be jobs in installation he didn't think we would get large manufacturing plants from the development of clean energy.

"When I think about green jobs I think about the export of skills and capacity," he said.

"We're not going to be able to compete with a China for example in solar PV development.

"With the changing global energy mix it is imperative Australia remains at the forefront from a technological point of view.

"If we are to drive economic benefit from developing renewable resources in the same way we have historically done from our fossil fuel commodities, we need investment where our strengths lie - in researching, developing and deploying new technologies.

"That's where Australia will create the jobs - investment and innovation - not through manufacturing in the clean energy circles."

He said we need to be making technological breakthroughs and nurturing development through the innovation cycle to deployment at scale - highlighting the Government's recent commitments to carbon, capture and storage (CCS) and solar development.

He said the Government's market based approach of the Renewable Energy Target and the carbon tax would allow the market to choose the best form of clean energy in the future.

Mr Ferguson said there would also be a need in the education sector and by parents to encourage young people to study in clean energy fields.

In the last decade or two some in the teaching profession have almost demonized the resources and petroleum industries as dirty industries but these are the industries that will provide the clean energy jobs of the future, he said.

"We need to focus on enhancing our competitive advantages…when it comes to resources, not just commodities, but the skills to exploit them profitably, we are a global leader and we need to hold that position."

Mr Ferguson also used CEDA's State of the Nation conference to release a new report by Geoscience Australia Towards Future Energy Discovery.

Representing five years of work and a $134 million investment, Mr Ferguson said the work undertaken as part of this project was already paying dividends in increased investment in both onshore and offshore exploration in Australia.

"No other continent in the world has been so extensively mapped in detail," he said.

"(This report) provides fresh insight to reduce the cost and risk of exploration in Australia."

The report provides pre-competitive data and regional studies to encourage further exploration for energy resources and includes work to identify new opportunities and potential for energy and mineral discovery in under-explored regions.

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