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Australia launches new Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040

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The Australian Government has released a major new strategy to forge closer economic integration with Southeast Asia, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions. Developed by Mr Nicholas Moore AO, Special Envoy to Southeast Asia, the Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040 sets out a practical pathway to increase Australia’s two-way trade and investment with the region. The Australian Government has announced three priority initiatives as an initial response to the strategy’s 75 recommendations. One will involve setting up investment deal teams to increase Australian investment in Southeast Asia. The teams will identify opportunities in priority sectors, provide market intelligence to investors and advise on risk management and regulatory processes. The second initiative is a four-year program to increase two-way trade between Australia and Southeast Asia. The third is a placements and internships program for young professionals in Australia and Southeast Asian countries. 

A number of big batteries in storage containers sit in front of high tension power transmission lines concept image

Big battery investment in Australia hits all-time high

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Investment in large-scale energy storage projects in Australia reached a record high in the second quarter of 2023. The Clean Energy Council’s Renewable Projects Quarterly Report showed six energy storage and hybrid projects worth A$2 billion reached investment stage in Q2 2023. This is the first time Australian storage projects have broken the billion-dollar barrier in a single quarter. These six energy storage projects will add 3,802 MWh to Australia’s storage capacity.

Empty plastic drink bottles sit in a blue recycling bin with recycling triangle symbol on the front

Global companies invest in Australian plastic recycling plant

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US headquartered snacks company Mondelēz International and global packaging company Amcor are investing in an Australian advanced recycling technology pioneer. The investments will help Licella progress construction of one of the first advanced recycling facilities in Australia, to promote a circular economy for plastic packaging. Licella’s technology uses hot, pressurised water to continuously recycle end-of-life plastic that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. The plastic is transformed into back into a crude oil substitute suitable for producing new food-grade plastic packaging. The new Australian facility, called Advanced Recycling Victoria, will initially process 20,000 tons per year of used plastic, scaling up to 120,000 tons. Through Amcor, Mondelēz International will have access to recycled content from this site to meet much of its Australian soft plastic packaging needs, reducing its need for virgin plastic.

A wind farm of wind turbine generators standing amongst green vegetation.

German company BayWa r.e. partners with Australian Atmos on wind energy

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German energy giant BayWa r.e. has announced a strategic development partnership with Atmos Renewables for a series of wind projects. BayWa r.e.said it marked “a significant milestone in the company's commitment to renewable energy development in Australia”. As part of the deal, BayWa r.e. sold to Atmos its Karadoc solar farm, which is one of Australia’s largest operating solar projects with a capacity of 112.5 MWac. It committed to redeploying resources from the sale proceeds and further investments into its 5GW pipeline of renewables projects in Australia. The arrangement also means Atmos has an option to acquire interests in BayWa r.e’s other Australian wind development projects. BayWa r.e. says: “It leverages Atmos' local expertise and BayWa r.e.'s global experience, creating a formidable force for developing a series of wind projects across the country.”

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Australia signs clean energy partnership with California

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Australia and California have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to accelerate shared efforts on climate change and the clean energy transition. Areas of cooperation include supporting green finance, investment and climate-friendly business; developing clean energy supply chains and technologies; clean transportation; and the circular economy. California is the world’s fifth-largest economy. Its ability to set standards for new technologies makes it an important partner for Australia’s transition to renewable energy. The MOU follows an agreement between Australia and the US in May to cooperate on clean energy and critical minerals supply chains and accelerate markets for technologies including batteries and hydrogen. Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said: “Global collaboration is critical to ensuring Australia maximises our clean energy potential and realises our ambition to become a renewable energy superpower.”

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Daiwa Securities makes first equity investment in Australia

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Daiwa Securities has made its first equity investment in Australia. The Japanese company was one of several investors in Main Sequence’s third deep tech investment fund, which raised A$450 million in its first close. Daiwa Securities says there are many opportunities for potential cooperation between Japan and Australia in areas that Main Sequence focuses on. These include decarbonisation, food, healthcare, space, core technology (quantum computers, cybersecurity and semiconductors) and artificial intelligence. Founded by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, Main Sequence has more than A$1 billion in assets under management. The market value of the deep tech companies the firm supports has grown to over A$6.8 billion.

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A landmark event on the road to net zero

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The Decarbonising Australia Business Summit attracted over 600 people from the research, corporate and government communities to hear how Australia and Japan could work together on the road to net zero. The Summit, held in Sydney on 26–27 July, explored opportunities for commercial partnerships across clean energy, research and technology. Industry panels and policy presentations explored the future of hydrogen and ammonia, carbon capture, sustainable aviation fuels and green steel.

A hydrogen fuel pump bowser with a row of white transport trucks parked in the background

Australia and the UK announce funding for green hydrogen projects

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The governments of Australia and the United Kingdom have announced a new joint initiative to provide funding aimed at accelerating green hydrogen projects. The announcement was made at a recent Green Hydrogen Roundtable held in Goa, India. The funding will enable Australian and British companies to work together on research, development or demonstration of green hydrogen projects that will contribute towards the decarbonisation of industry and transport. The arrangement is part of a broader push by the Australian Government to work with like-minded countries to build supply chains, enhance investment and shape global markets for clean energy technologies.

A group of wind turbines from an offshore wind farm are surrounded by ocean with a cloudy sky and setting sun in the background

Multinational consortium to develop Australian offshore wind project

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A multinational consortium comprising Ireland’s Simply Blue Group, the UK’s Subsea7 and Australia’s Spark Renewables will develop a major Australian offshore wind project. The Sea Fern Floating Offshore Wind project is in a newly declared wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the Hunter, in New South Wales. The project will be able to generate up to 2 GW. Offshore wind is expected to play a major role in helping Australia meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050. There are 6 proposed regions for offshore renewable energy developments (such as offshore wind) around Australia. The Hunter area is Australia’s second official offshore wind development zone. Australia is accepting applications for feasibility licences for this zone until November 2023.

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Historic partnership signed between Traditional Owners and clean energy investor

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Philippines-listed ACEN has partnered with Traditional Owners, the Yindjibarndi people, to develop and operate large-scale renewable energy projects in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The historic partnership is one of Australia’s largest Indigenous-led renewable energy initiatives. It ensures the Yindjibarndi people have approval for all proposed project sites on Yindjibarndi Ngurra (country), equity participation of 25% to 50% in all projects, preferred contracting for Yindjibarndi-owned businesses, and training and employment opportunities. ACEN and the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) have formed the Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation (YEC). YEC’s initial goal is to start constructing 750 MW of combined wind, solar and battery storage over the next few years – an investment of more than A$1 billion.

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Three-quarters of clean energy investors plan for growth

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Confidence in the Australian renewable energy sector has never been higher, a new report finds. The study by Minter Ellison canvassed 100 active domestic and international renewable energy investors to gauge their views on investment opportunities, trends and challenges in Australia. It found that in 2022 US$33bn was invested in renewables projects and infrastructure and US$17.4bn in mergers and acquisitions. Despite the record investment, nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) plan to increase investments in Australia through 2023 – “a sharp uptick from 65% in 2021”. Solar PV and biomass, biogas, and waste-to-energy projects were most frequently cited as strong opportunities. The report also highlights Australia’s key strengths as including greenfield project opportunities, funding and investment opportunities and return on investment, legal certainty and regulatory stability, and government net zero targets.

Gameloft Brisbane’s remake of the 1970s PC classic, The Oregon Trail, was the most popular game on Apple Arcade in 2021.

Apply now for Australia’s Digital Games Tax Offset

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Applications are now open for Australia’s Digital Games Tax Offset (DGTO). Under the DGTO, games developers can claim a 30% refundable tax offset on eligible projects with more than A$500,000 of qualifying expenditure. The DGTO can be combined with state-based incentives, meaning some projects can access benefits worth up to 45% of development costs. The DGTO portal has more information on eligibility criteria and application guidelines. Australia is one of the world’s leading destinations for digital games development, with over 3,000 people working at 400 studios. Global studios such as Sledgehammer Games, Riot Games, Keyword Studios, Electronic Arts and Gameloft have set up in Australia, attracted to its deep pool of talent, tax offsets and incentives, friendly developer community and relaxed lifestyle.

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Australia joins Climate Club Alliance

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Australia has signed up to the Climate Club, an alliance of nations that aims to decarbonise industry and pursue net zero emissions by 2050. The Climate Club was formed last year and is an initiative of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made the announcement while visiting Berlin in early July. He highlighted Australia’s ambition of becoming a renewable energy superpower, and to increase international collaboration with other countries pursuing net zero emissions. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed Australia’s decision to join the alliance that includes all G7 countries. He stated that Germany and Australia were already cooperating on the production and transportation of green hydrogen, and he looked forward to extending the partnership even further.

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Geoscience Australia’s assessment highlights energy export leadership

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Australia’s diversifying energy commodity resources provide wide-ranging investment opportunities as the world transitions to net zero, according to Geoscience Australia's latest assessment. Its report, Australia Energy Commodity Resources 2023, highlights Australia as a major player in the global energy supply chain, with 85 per cent of Australian-produced energy exported. In a foreword, Minister for Resources Madeline King notes the report shows Australia’s position “as a reliable trade and investment partner with a diverse mix of energy resources and strong exports. It also highlights the nation’s huge potential to become a renewable energy superpower, particularly through the production of hydrogen.” There are 22 hydrogen projects operational or under construction, and a further 88 in development. Carbon capture use and storage projects are also increasing, and the nation maintains its position as among the world's largest exporters of Liquified Natural Gas, metallurgical coal and thermal coal.

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Australian universities shine in global rankings

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Three Australian universities have achieved a spot among the world's top 20 for the first time, with the University of Melbourne securing its highest-ever global ranking of 14th. The University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales tied for 19th place. The rankings, conducted by global higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds, assesed 1,500 institutions worldwide. A revised assessment formula this year supported Australia’s climb up the rankings, with new criteria of sustainability, employment outcomes and international research networks introduced. Australian universities also stood out among other study destinations with high scores for academic reputation, citations per faculty, international faculty and international student ratio.

Concept image of hydrogen atoms floating around H2

HydGene Renewables green hydrogen technology secures funding

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Innovative Australian hydrogen technology company HydGene Renewables has secured the backing of a specialist UK investor along with Australia’s green bank in a successful A$6 million seed raise. HydGene's innovative technology uses biocatalysts to convert organic waste, including agricultural byproducts, into valuable hydrogen. The process takes place in modular plants, which would enable localised hydrogen production and reduce transportation costs in rural and remote areas. The strategic investor consortium is led by UK venture capital firm Agronomics (A$2.5m) with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC, A$2m), Understorey Ventures and NOAB Ventures. The funds will help HydGene establish a pilot plant, expand research and scale operations.

A fuel truck with fuel hose connected to the wing of a passenger jet aircraft.

Boost for sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia

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Australia has taken a significant step towards establishing itself as a global leader in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by setting up a new Jet Zero Council. The council will bring together key industry players including airlines, manufacturers, airports, fuel suppliers and government agencies to tackle aviation emissions and provide guidance on SAF development. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will also invest A$30 million to support domestic SAF production from agricultural feedstocks. “Australia’s strong agricultural sector means we could be a global leader by scaling up domestic production of renewable fuel for exports, which could help reduce global aviation emissions significantly,” Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said. The International Air Transport Association estimates SAF could contribute around 65 per cent of the emissions reduction needed for the industry to reach net-zero by 2050.

A pile of grey and brown coloured zeolite rocks on the ground after excavation

Australia’s national strategy aims to accelerate growth in critical minerals sector

Australia has unveiled a new strategy to grow its critical minerals sector and maximise the benefits of its internationally significant resources. The Critical Minerals Strategy 2023–2030 includes objectives such as building supply chains through strong international partnerships, fostering local processing capabilities and developing infrastructure through investment opportunities. Led by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources, the strategy will provide a framework to guide policy decisions. It’s backed by a A$500 million targeted investment into critical minerals projects via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and financing through the Critical Minerals Facility and National Reconstruction Fund. Minister for Resources Madeleine King says it “outlines the enormous opportunity to develop the sector and new downstream industries which will support Australia’s economy and global efforts to lower emissions for decades to come”.

A digital games robotic gladiator on another planet

Australian Government powers up digital games sector

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Digital games developers in Australia can now access a major new tax incentive. Australia has legislated to create a 30 per cent refundable tax offset for qualifying games development expenditure. Developers will be able to combine the DGTO with existing state-based incentives–creating incentives worth up to 40%–45% of eligible development costs. The game-changing incentive makes Australia’s growing digital games sector even more attractive to international developers and investors.

Red hot block of steel casting during the manufacturing process

Geoscience Australia releases first comprehensive assessment of Australia’s green steel potential

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Australia has the potential to become a major global player in green steel, a new report finds, thanks to its abundant renewable resources and track record as the world’s leading iron ore supplier. Geoscience Australia and Monash University have released the first comprehensive assessment of Australia's potential to develop green steel as a new export industry. The study pinpoints regions of current and future iron ore production suitable for green steel production and highlights the opportunities and challenges for the Australian iron ore industry in meeting the global demand for low-emissions steel. Optimising processes using wind and solar could significantly decrease green steel production costs to around AU$900 per tonne by 2030 and AU$750 per tonne by 2050, it finds.

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