Media Release: September 2022
Achieving Australia’s Energy Transition: Funding and translating knowledge
The Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) is pleased to release its next set of reports under the Australian Energy Transition Research Plan. The new papers outline the current state of Australia’s funding and translation of Australia’s energy transition research.
While recent policy announcements by the Australian Government are welcomed, it is clear from ACOLA’s recent work that there is still much to be done, and time is running out to take meaningful action to sufficiently mitigate impacts on society. Transitioning to net-zero by 2050, if not earlier, is critical.
There are three critical limbs for research and innovation to pave this pathway: (1) appropriate prioritisation of urgent and strategic research (2) the funding of that priority research and (3) the translation of this research to impact
Mr Drew Clarke AO FTSE, Chair of the Research Plan, said “ACOLA has previously identified the immediate and strategic research questions to drive Australia’s energy transition. For social, economic and environmental impact, we now need to ensure that the research effort is focussed, funded and translated.”
ACOLA’s analysis on the latest available Australian data on funding of energy research shows that:
- Australia’s reported government RD&D spend is low relative to other key economies.
- From 2004–2020 Australia’s public RD&D expenditure on energy has decreased both in absolute terms, as well as relative to comparable countries.
- Gaining a better understanding of Australia’s energy RD&D spend, including RDTI expenditure, would provide important and more comprehensive insights into our overall RD&D spend.
ACOLA’s new research translation report highlights that there are various obstacles that impede the flow of research to impact, whether it be for commercial or policy purposes. It makes four recommendations; one that aims to improve the cohesion and information sharing with energy stakeholders through a research translation platform, and the others targeted at a different agent in the Australian research ecosystem:
- Researchers should be incentivised to actively develop and pursue research translation pathways and non-academic impacts.
- Research end-users should have access to independent, interdisciplinary and robust research summaries to guide policies and investments.
- Funders should increase the stock and flow of impactful research, through increasing targeted funding and incentives to researchers to focus on the non-academic impacts of their research.
Professor Richard Holden FASSA, Chair of the ACOLA Board, said “This paper has broader benefit for the translation of all research, and we would strongly encourage all governments to consider the report findings to drive research translation in other policy areas.”
These reports, and others in this series, are available at https://acola.org/energy-transition-research-plan/.
Australia’s five Learned Academies provide independent, authoritative and influential research-based advice across research domains, build public awareness and understanding of research, and champion, celebrate and support excellence in Australian research and innovation. The Academies are:
- Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia
- Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
- Australian Academy of the Humanities
- Australian Academy of Science
- Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
ACOLA is the forum whereby Australia’s Learned Academies come together to contribute expert advice to inform national policy; and to develop innovative solutions to complex global problems and emerging national needs.
ACOLA would like to acknowledge ARENA, CSIRO and NERA for funding that enabled the important development of these reports.