Speaking at the International Conference on Coal, Science and Technology in Melbourne last week, Frydenberg said Australia was well placed to satisfy the energy needs of its Asian and Pacific neighbours.
“Exports of coal represent 22% of our total resources and energy exports, and in 2014-15, were the second highest export earner for Australia at around $A38 billion,” he said.
“The coming decades will see an increase of about one-third of global demand for energy, much of this increase fuelled by growing prosperity and populations in Asia [and] Australia is well placed to meet this demand given our abundant natural energy resources like coal and our proximity to Asia.”
It’s welcome news after some initial fears among the coal sector that the left-leaning new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could make life harder for coal in the pursuit of renewables.
Frydenberg also said projections by his department showed steady growth in the production of metallurgical and thermal coal, with Australia being the largest exporter of the latter.
Australia’s target of cutting 28% of its greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 has been described by Frydenberg as a “strong, economically responsible and achievable reduction target”
He said coal has a strong role to play by adopting low emission technologies such as carbon capture storage, and partnering with scientist and tertiary institutions to advance such technologies.
“It will provide opportunities for companies operating in the sector to forge stronger links with our science and research agencies to aid innovation and lower costs,” he said.
“At the moment, we are investigating innovative ways to convert lignite to higher value energy products such as pyrolysis oil or synthetic crude oil.”
Frydenberg also said the Australian government was committed to the development of low emissions technologies, citing the Otway carbon sequestration project in Victoria as an example.
“The commercial potential is there and achievable, so the government and Australian industry are continuing to fund several demonstration programs and activities,” he said.