The Morrison government has highlighted gas as a crucial energy source to back up renewable power generation over the next decade.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor on Thursday released a long-awaited roadmap charting the course to meeting Australia’s emission reduction commitments.
Gas and pumped hydrogen are nominated as key ways to shore up the reliability of solar and wind as the economy shifts to cleaner power generation.
“Gas is one of many technologies that can play an important role here. It’s very important in the short-term,” Mr Taylor told ABC Radio National.
The paper builds on a survey of more than 140 technologies including hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and soil carbon sequestration.
Mr Taylor said the government’s approach would focus on technology rather than taxes.
“We want many horses in this race. Any horse that can win the race, we want it in there,” he said.
The shift from coal to gas to underpin renewable generation between now and 2030 is significant and could rankle some conservative MPs within the coalition government.
The report also references the potential for small modular nuclear reactors while acknowledging challenges with cost, the environment and social acceptability.
The roadmap, which looks at power generation and emissions in the short, medium and long-term, has been released for consultation until June 21.
Labor’s resources spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the government had acknowledged renewables and gas would be crucial into the future, and accused the coalition of “raising the white flag” on coal.
The roadmap has divided clean energy and environmental groups, with some criticising it for focusing on gas while others see it as a positive step forward.
Alongside the roadmap, chief scientist Alan Finkel is developing Australia’s first low emissions technology statement.
The two documents will be the centrepiece of Australia’s long-term emissions reduction plan to be released before the next major UN climate conference.
The Australia Institute’s Richie Merzian says the UN has asked countries to attend the COP conference with more ambitious emissions reduction plans.
“The UN climate framework already has a template for a technology strategy, but it’s seen as a means to an end, and the end is to raise a country’s climate ambition,” he told AAP.
“If Angus Taylor is expecting to receive applause for delivering a technology strategy at the next COP, the next question will be where is our additional ambition. There’s no point having a roadmap without a destination.”