The creation of more than 5,000 jobs in regional areas would be at risk if the Federal Government cut funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as planned, the Australian Conservation Foundation has warned as reported by ABC News.
ARENA was created by the Gilliard government in 2012 to award funding and grants to viable new renewable energy projects in order to get them off the ground. However, the Government wants to cut funding to save $1.3 billion.
The Australian Conservation Foundation or ACF said an analysis they conducted showed the decision could seriously slow job growth. It’s estimated that 5,126 possible jobs in regional towns could have been advertised if 20 new solar projects received grants.
Kelly O’Shanassy from the ACF said for every direct job created, ARENA estimated that there will be 10 indirect jobs and those jobs would be operating across regional Australia. She also said that solar projects were ready to go if there was some assistance from the Australian Government. She further added that there were many applications into ARENA and only a small number get shortlisted, and they are projects that are not on the commercial stage. They still need some grant funding or R&D funding, but all are well proven.
Mr. Frydenberg said it’s important to continue to fund renewable energy in a very generous and strong way and that’s what they’ll do, but moving to a loan program as opposed to a grant program will also provide savings to the government given that they inherited hundreds of billions of debt from the Labor Party.
The government put ARENA in a very tight situation last year, but did not have the support in the Senate to pass the cuts. It’s now pressing the Labour Party to support its supposed cut to ARENA, as part of the $6.1 billion of savings in its Budget Omnibus bill.
Featured Image Credit: Karen and Brad Emerson