Greenough River Solar Farm. Image: Clean Energy Council.
By Elizabeth Fabri
THE Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will miss out on half a billion dollars of funding over the next five years, following a controversial decision by Federal Labor to support cuts.
The outcome could have been worse, however, with the Federal government initially proposing to cut the agency’s entire $1.3 billion budget.
Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said he recognised there were budget constraints facing the nation, but clean energy innovation was a crucial lever to transition the Australian economy and create investment and employment opportunities for the future.
“A cut to ARENA’s funding is a move at odds with the Federal Government’s innovation agenda and is a disappointing change in the ALP’s position,” Mr Thornton said.
“While the $800 million that Labor has proposed to leave in ARENA’s future budget would allow it to continue many critical functions, the extent and rate it can bring forward exciting new technologies will clearly be constrained.
“This decision will nonetheless rattle the confidence of investors in the Australian renewable energy industry who have been seeking stability after several years of uncertainty and change.”
Shadow minister for Climate and Energy Mark Butler said the $800 million funding would allow the agency to continue its work.
“This funding is in addition to the funding ARENA has in place to complete around 200 existing projects and to fund the large scale solar projects announced on 8 September,” Mr Butler said.
“We promised strong climate change policies at the election and we will continue to deliver on those policies.
”That is why as part of this package, Labor has also secured the Government’s agreement for the Minister for Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg to meet with me, to discuss the profile of remaining funds over the forward estimates and a forward work program.”