To get to Net Zero, Australia needs to make big changes – and FAST

April 19, 2023

Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 will require Australia to transform its energy system at an unprecedented pace and scale using all available options and technologies.

This was one of the insights outlined in the Net Zero Australia study released today by a research partnership between the University of Melbourne, the University of Queensland, Princeton University and international management consultancy Nous Group. Future Energy Exports Cooperative Research Centre (FEnEx CRC) also provided funding and academic support.

FEnEx CRC CEO Professor Eric May welcomed the release of the study’s key findings.

“This study provides detailed scenarios mapping out possible future pathways for Australian energy exports. It firmly underlines the importance of the work we have underway at FEnEx CRC to assist the decarbonisation of Australia’s existing energy exports such as liquified natural gas and accelerate clean energies such as hydrogen and ammonia,” he said.

“It has also highlighted the importance of accelerating efforts in advancing permanent carbon storage and confirmed that we will need a doubling of our gas-fired power capacity to support renewables and energy storage”.

Professor May said Net Zero Australia provides a unique and highly detailed insight into the opportunities and challenges for Australia in transitioning to net zero emissions.

Net Zero Australia has outlined that, if we want to get serious about tackling the energy transition, we need to invest more in new technologies, or combinations of technologies, that can quickly and affordably reduce emissions,” Professor May said.

“To get to Net Zero while maintaining our standard of living and providing energy security to our regional neighbours, this report also makes it very clear that Australia and its policy-makers and key industries need to make big changes – and fast if it is to happen by 2050.”

Professor May said Net Zero Australia set out six detailed scenarios for how Australia could achieve Net Zero by 2050 and has outlined 12 key findings for policy-makers and the private sector.

“A key takeaway is the massive scale of the investment needed across all scenarios. Another is that using all available technical solutions will be essential. The study confirms the goal is achievable, particularly if we are able to both deploy renewables and implement carbon capture and storage (CCS) at unprecedented but plausible scales” he said.

The study’s key insights include:

  • Australia has the resources to build a new clean export industry
  • Australia needs to grow renewables by 40 times if it is to provide the required scale of domestic and exported energyCCS will play a significant role in all modelled scenarios, with natural gas providing crucial energy security unless fossil fuels are not permitted
  • Unprecedented capital investment ($7-9 trillion to 2060) is needed
  • A large workforce of up to 800,000 by 2060 with new skills will need to be grown across the nation

Professor May said the report highlights the need to accelerate support for research and development being conducted by organisations such as FEnEx CRC on a range of new technologies that can reduce emissions for existing energies such as natural gas as well as accelerate development of commercial scale hydrogen.

“The scale of what we have to achieve in a very short time frame can be done, but now it’s time to roll up our sleeves as well as open our minds to how can we de-risk and the use next generation technologies that are not yet mature to enable deep decarbonisation,” he said.


The Net-Zero Australia study has explored six distinct pathways that could decarbonise the Australian economy over the next 30 years. The research is the first to describe at a high degree of granularity what needs to be built — and when and where — across key sectors and includes:

  • Model pathways to decarbonise the energy, industrial and transport sectors
  • An assessment of the contribution that Australian exports can make to global decarbonisation
  • Incorporating local constraints that reflect the complexities, risks and uncertainties of the net zero transition
  • ‘Downscaling’ the modelled pathways to illustrate the build-out of assets and infrastructure with a high level of detail across sectors, land, and time
  • Identifies and analyses socio-economic benefits, including pollution reduction and job creation
  • Identifies investment, infrastructure and innovation priorities that deliver technology deployment targets and create real options for rapid decarbonisation

More information on Net Zero Australia can be located at

The Future Energy Exports Cooperative Research Centre (FEnEx CRC) is an Australian not-for-profit organisation striving to decarbonise liquefied natural gas exports and grow clean hydrogen production.

Established in 2020 as a research-driven charity, the FEnEx CRC brings together 35 industry, government and university partners with resources of $163 million to conduct industrial-scale research that supports LNG and hydrogen exports from Australia.

More information can be found at

Media contact: James Bowie 0424 013 756 or

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