Renewable energy gets boost in new ARENA

The Federal Government agreed to a Greens plan to create a new independent body to manage more than $3 billion worth of renewable energy projects.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), announced in July, will take over the roles of 10 current renewable programs and research and development projects in solar, geothermal and biofuel energy.

ARENA will help “turbo-charge” the development of renewable energy, according to the The Clean Energy Council (CEC).

CEC director of strategy, Kane Thornton welcomed the ARENA announcement, saying it would help to take cutting-edge technologies out of the lab and into the electricity grid.

“This is a reform the Clean Energy Council and its members have been calling for, to ensure targeted funding for early stage renewable energy technology. The establishment of this new independent body will also protect that funding from political interference, providing investors with greater certainty,” he said.

“The Clean Energy Council urges the government to go further and add to the existing funding using revenue from a carbon price. This is in the national interest and will ensure Australia takes full advantage of all our renewable resources, which are among the best in the world.

“New technologies such as geothermal, wave and large-scale solar have massive potential for Australia. Taking these technologies into mainstream use requires a stable and targeted funding commitment from government that will allow clean energy companies to also leverage investment from private investors,” he said.

The agency will bring together a range of clean energy initiatives previously administered by different agencies. These initiatives include the Solar Flagships program, funding from the Connecting Renewables initiative, the Australian Solar Institute and others.

Mr Thornton said consolidating existing funding programs under ARENA was “a sensible and welcome move”, which should provide greater stability to companies investing in these technologies.

“The creation of ARENA should not delay the roll-out of existing funding, which is needed on the ground as soon as possible. Australians want action on carbon pollution and cheaper clean energy, and ARENA has the potential to play a key part of delivering this,” he said.