New Australian Government Attacks Renewable Energy Research and Investments

Renewable Energy Research and Investments

Renewable Energy Research and Investments under attack in Australia – May 2014 ( Solar Thermal Magazine) 

The Australian Government has announced its intention to repeal the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 and abolish ARENA, returning its functions to the Department of Industry and returning $1.3 billion to consolidated revenue. The Government has indicated it will earmark $15 million for the Department of Industry to fund new projects and initiatives in 2015-16 and a further $15 million in 2016-17.

ARENA Chair Greg Bourne said the ARENA Act will need to be repealed by the Australian Parliament before the Government can give effect to any of these arrangements.

“In the meantime, ARENA will continue to perform its functions under the ARENA Act, including accepting and assessing applications,” Mr Bourne said.

The Budget changes do not affect the 181 projects, worth close to $1 billion, that already have funding agreements in place with ARENA. ARENA will continue to work with stakeholders to deliver these projects and monitor milestones as part of its mandate to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and their uptake across Australia.

“The Coalition government acknowledges the role of renewable energy in Australia’s energy mix,” said Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.

“There is over $1 billion in funding for existing renewable projects to be completed over the coming years,” he said.

Given the tight fiscal environment as a result of Labor’s legacy of debt and deficit, the government considers there is a very significant investment in renewable energy.

ARENA’s Mr Bourne said he was ‘‘very pissed off’’ by government claims his agency and others were beneficiaries of ‘‘corporate welfare’’, noting the government’s plan for a $20-billion Medical Research Future Fund to encourage advancement in that sector.

Clean energy, along with medical and other medical breakthroughs belong in a ‘‘realm where the government actually begins to help ‘sun-risers’ rather than ‘sunset’ industries’’, Mr Bourne said.

‘‘We may well find we are locking ourselves in to a carbon-intensive future in which we have no way getting out,’’ Mr Bourne said.

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ARENA’s Emerging Renewables Program (including the SHARE initiative) and the Accelerated Step Change Initiative will remain open during this period.

Proponents should take into consideration the Australian Government’s announced funding changes when developing applications for funding from ARENA.

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Tracey Smith About Tracey Smith
Tracey is an accountant and entrepreneur with a passion for nature. This passion is what spurred her interest in renewable energy, and the rest is history as they say. Tracey is a principal in Energy Think Group, the publisher of Solar Thermal Magazine and Tek-Think. She is also the principal at Women's Financial Help Desk. She spends her free time in the outdoors with her horses and dogs. She loves to travel.

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