Legislation proposing $1 billion in cuts to future grant funding available to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will stifle solar, wind and other clean energy innovations as stated and argued by the renewables industry association Clean Energy Council as reported by Wind Power Monthly.
CEC members including turbine manufacturers Acciona, Gamesa and GE Australia, released a briefing on August 30th detailing the impact of cutting ARENA’s budget. The CEC’s publication follows legislation introduced in Australia’s parliament last month, detailing a package of cuts on the funding.
CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said that while they understand that the Australian government is looking for ways to save money, cutting grant funding for renewable energy massively undermines the industry’s efforts to meet the national emissions reduction targets as well as the 2020 renewable energy target.
ARENA had been awarded around $2.5 billion in funding since 2012 when it was set up, until the year 2022. ARENA also stated that to date, their committed funding is about $1 billion, which leaves $1.5 billion of uncommitted funding, which the government is proposing to take back to make a saving.
Even though energy storage is seen as an important enabling technology, it will also be affected by the government’s proposal. ARENA announced more than $100 million in grants for energy storage projects that mainly use batteries, followed by thermal storage technologies. The agency also awarded $10 million to support an innovative project to co-locate solar with an existing wind farm to reduce the cost of solar energy.
The government has a Plan B, to replace the $1 billion cut to the agency’s fund, the government has proposed the creation of a fund using $1 billion of existing capital allocated to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is the country’s taxpayer-funded green bank and will be co-managed by ARENA and the bank.
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