Clean Technica reported that Australia’s government has reached a cross-bench agreement with the opposition party to slash $500 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The agency has been granted a funding lifeline of $800 million over the next five years, after the federal government and the opposition came with the agreement.
Rumours and promises of fund cuts to the ARENA have been circulating for months now, following 3 years of anti-environmental and clean energy policy from Australia’s leading Liberal Party. Numerous experts have warned what such funding cuts would do to the country’s clean energy industry, with the latest warning being provided by a group of big-name global energy leaders.
These leaders have made an open letter to the government earlier this month stating that investment confidence would again be undermined if one of the first moves of the new parliament is to decrease funding to Australia’s key clean energy agency. It would damage Australia’s reputation and unsettle investors.
The warning was exemplified by news that ARENA had approved 12 large-scale solar PV projects to receive grants as part of the agency’s multi-million dollar large solar funding round, which is a series of funding which will now likely be a distant memory.
The Coalition has reached an agreement with the opposition Labor party to strip $500 million as part of the Budget Savings Omnibus Bill 2016. This move will leave ARENA with almost half of its original funding appropriation to support the growth of clean energy technologies in Australia, with two major parties set to meet soon to know which projects and technologies will receive priority funding.
The move has been received with confusion and outright resentment by the Australian renewable energy industry and political opponents.
WWF-Australia spokesperson Kellie Caught asked why such agency that is making a difference should be punished. Just last week, the agency’s announcement on big solar showed its worth. Every dollar the agency is spending on renewable projects is expected to return $10.
She added that it makes a mockery of the Turnbull government’s innovation agenda and a sham of the Labor Party’s support for clean energy.
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