Speaking in Parliament on Thursday night, Albanese used his reply to the 2021-2022 Federal Budget to showcase the $100 million plan which would see 10,000 apprenticeships in green energy generation, storage, and related activities partly funded by $10,000 grants over four years.
“The world is moving quickly to embrace new energy sources. Australia can be at the forefront of this change,” Albanese said.
“Not long ago solar power was seen as a useful novelty, good enough to run a pocket calculator but too expensive, too inefficient, too unreliable to power a home or a workplace.
“Australians changed that. Australian breakthroughs in solar power reshaped the global energy grid.
“Overwhelmingly this did lead to manufacturing and job creation, but it was overseas, not here. And if we don’t get smart, if we don’t get serious, if we don’t get moving, the same thing will happen again.”
Critics have savaged the Federal Government following the unveiling of its 2021-22 Budget on Tuesday night, claiming the lack of money set aside for renewable energy is a missed opportunity.
More than $1.6 billion has been allocated in the Budget for energy and emission reduction spending but there is just $49.3 million for green energy, including $30 million over the next year for the Darwin big battery and a microgrid project in the Northern Territory and $19.3 million for another microgrid project in the northern Queensland.
Most of the government’s spending on energy is focused on low emissions technologies, including $275 million for the development of four hydrogen production hubs, and $237 million for carbon capture and storage projects (CCS) and hubs but these are not explicitly green projects.
The Government, which has declared that Australia is on the pathway to net zero and that their goal is to get there preferably by 2050, continues to focus on a gas-fired future.
“Their insistence on looking backwards on energy … has driven our capability downwards but our cost upwards,” Albanese said.
“They’ve run up the white flag on skills and apprentices. I’m not going to see us surrender any more jobs and industries.
“We mine and produce every element needed to build a lithium battery – the power storage technology of the future.
“I don’t want us to miss out on jobs and investment by sending those materials overseas for another country to manufacture and then importing them back once value has been added.”
Labor’s apprenticeship plan would offer $10,000 cash payments to support 10,000 energy apprenticeships. The apprenticeships will be available in rooftop solar installation and maintenance; renewable energy generation; storage and distribution including in emerging technologies such as green hydrogen; energy efficiency upgrades; renewables manufacturing like batteries; and relevant agricultural activities.
The $10,000 would be split over the four years, with $2,000 paid upon the apprenticeship’s start and the remaining money paid out at $2,000 per year.
Albanese also announced plans to invest $10 million in training and education programs for experienced workers seeking to re-train or upskill in new energy industries, claiming Labor’s approach “will make electric cars more affordable and support the rollout of community batteries”.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton welcomed Albanese’s plan, saying it paints a vision for Australia’s future with renewable energy a driving force of a thriving economy.
“The Federal Australian Labor Party (ALP) should be congratulated for recognising the opportunities that the renewable energy sector presents and committing to a range of sensible and bold initiatives,” he said.
“Now is the time to unlock Australia’s enormous renewable energy potential.
“The current pipeline of renewable energy projects could secure nearly 29,000 full-time equivalent jobs. Our sector is ready to deliver career pathways that provide access to clean, low-cost energy, which the future workforce can truly aspire to.
“Renewable energy jobs can have an enormous positive impact on regional communities, and this should be a clear priority for government.”
Thornton also welcomed the ALP’s plan to roll out community batteries, taking advantage of Australia’s love of rooftop solar.
“When every suburb has a community battery, Australia’s electricity system will be fairer, cleaner, cheaper, more reliable and more neighbourly,” he said.
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