Energy - Capability Statement

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Enabling the Australian energy sector to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and integrate diverse energy sources into the electricity grid and, as a result, create jobs, growth and export opportunities.


Key facts for the Energy Priority

  • It is estimated that approximately $190 million of the $2.65 billion supporting national priorities is allocated directly to the Energy Priority area.*
  • In terms of citation impact, an indicator of research quality, Australian research on this Priority ranks:
    • 2nd out of 11 when compared against selected Asia Pacific countries**
    • 9th out of 15 when compared to selected European countries, Canada, New Zealand and USA.***
  • 55 per cent of Australian publications are produced with an
    international co-author.

*  Data on two key initiatives – university research block grants and the R&D taxincentive – are not collected in a way that supports analysis against priorities.
** Selected Asia Pacific countries: China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
*** Selected European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Current research strengths

Australia is considered a source of impactful and influential research in energy technologies—producing high quality research and participating in a range of international research collaboration with major international institutions. Australia’s existing research strengths include:

  • solar photovoltaics
  • solar thermal technologies
  • biofuels (particularly algal biofuels)
  • carbon capture and storage applied to electricity generation and fossil fuel-based industrial processes
  • nuclear technologies – including waste encapsulation, deuteration and neutron scattering.


Practical challenges

  1. Low emission energy production from fossil fuels and other sources.
  2. New clean energy sources and storage technologies that are efficient, cost-effective and reliable.
  3. Australian electricity grids that readily integrate and more efficiently transmit energy from all sources including low– and zero–carbon sources.


Action within this Priority will support internationally relevant R&D that will lead to more efficient and/or lower emissions use of fossil fuels, advances in renewable energy and storage technologies and integrative energy solutions. It will assist Australia to overcome current research weaknesses and take advantage of strengths by:

  • strengthening engagement between the research sector and industry
  • positioning Australia with a strategic advantage to commercialise emerging energy technologies
  • fostering increased international collaboration with the global energy sector
  • prioritising social science research into energy use and emerging technologies

International Citation Comparison, 2010 to 2014

International Citation Comparison, 2010 to 2014

For this Priority, each circle represents one of the comparator countries, grouped into region by colour: circle size represents number of publications, while circle placement indicates the country’s weighted citations relative to Australia. Data are from Thomson Reuters InCites, with the Priority identified by a keyword search.

Australian Government Expenditure on Science and Research Priorities

Australian Government Expenditure on Science and Research Priorities

The Australian Government invests $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation. Approximately $2.65 billion of this investment can be attributed to research aligned to the nine Science and Research priorities. Data on university block grants and the R&D tax incentive – two key initiatives that have critical roles in supporting strategic, mission-directed research - are not collected in a way that supports analysis against the priorities.

Sources: 2015-16 Science, Research and Innovation Budget Tables; Research Strategies Australia, Science and Research Priorities and Practical Challenges, May 2015.

Australia’s Science and Research Priorities

Australia’s Science and Research Priorities identify areas that are of immediate and critical importance to the nation and its place in the world. They help align our research to industry and will make sure that we capitalise on our comparative advantages and address challenges.

The Australian Government will use the Priorities to guide a proportion of its research investment to areas of critical need and national importance. This capability snapshot is a vital step to make sure that we get this strategic investment right – it is about understanding what we spend now, what we are good at and where we need to improve.

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