Australia, Policy, Projects, Renewables, Solar

New Future Fund chief maps Australia’s renewable future

In a landmark speech at the National Press Club, Greg Combet, former Labor Climate Minister and incoming Future Fund Chair, outlined Australia’s path to becoming a renewable energy superpower.

In his speech, Combet said the Net Zero Economy Authority – a new government agency soon to be legislated – will play a pivotal role in transforming the nation’s economy away from fossil fuel reliance.

“As our trading partners pursue their own emissions-reduction targets, and wealth from our fossil fuel exports declines, we must create new sources of wealth from industries powered by renewable energy,” Combet said.

He said that with abundant renewable energy resources, a skilled workforce, and stable investment environment, Australia is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the global shift to net zero emissions.

The new statutory Net Zero Economy Authority will coordinate efforts across governments, businesses, unions and communities to ensure an orderly economic transformation.

“The authority won’t take on the roles of existing agencies. It will complement, coordinate, identify gaps and contribute to policy development,” Combet said.

A central focus will be supporting emissions-intensive regions like the Hunter Valley, Gladstone, and Latrobe Valley through the transition.

“The touchstone will be how well we handle the closure of coal-fired power stations,” Combet said, claiming the authority will assist workers through redeployment schemes, skills training, and connecting them with jobs in emerging clean industries.

Substantial investment will be required, with the government aiming to position Australia’s renewable energy and mineral abundance as a competitive advantage.

“Australia needs to respond… we can’t go toe-to-toe on investment, but we have a compelling advantage in renewable energy and mineral resources,” Combet said citing the US Inflation Reduction Act.

Initial priority areas include processing critical minerals, manufacturing energy technologies like batteries and solar, producing renewable hydrogen and green metals – all underpinned by low-cost renewable power.

International collaboration will also be key, with Japan and South Korea identified as natural partners seeking to reduce fossil fuel dependence.

“There’s an opportunity for them to make green iron here and export it to achieve decarbonisation goals,” Combet said.

According to Combet, as the energy transition accelerates, the new Authority will play a crucial role in catalysing investment, redeploying workers, engaging communities, and positioning Australia as a renewable export superpower.

“The economics are simple – as fossil fuel exports decline, we must create new wealth from renewable industries,” he said.

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