By Isabella Kaminski
The AUD$3.2 billion (£2.1bn) agency has been set up by the Federal Government and will bring together a range of clean and renewable energy initiatives previously administered by different agencies, including the Solar Flagships programme, funding from the Connecting Renewables initiative, the Australian Solar Institute and others.
Kane Thornton, Director of Strategy of Australia's Clean Energy Council, says ARENA will help take cutting-edge technology 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.
“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.”
Thornton says consolidating existing funding programmes 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.”