Australian CEC councerned over renewables budget cuts

Australian industry association Clean Energy Council (CEC) has voiced concerns over the government's move to cut over A$600mn from the state budget for renewable energy projects.

CEC said a total of A$370 million set aside for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) would be deferred until a later date, just less than a year after the independent body was estabilished with the aim of providing long-term stability to investors, and prevent budget cuts in the future.

The Australian Treasury's latest budget also cut a further A$260 million of funding for energy efficiency programs and large-scale solar, said the association. Investment uncertainty generated by the constant chopping and changing to funding for clean energy programs, including ARENA, was a concern, said Clean Energy Council Deputy Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

ARENA was set up with support from all major political parties to be at arm’s length from government, to provide much-needed investment confidence in home-grown technology development right here in Australia,” said Thornton.

“Funding for ARENA to the tune of A$370 million has been postponed until 2020, and the process to put that money back on the table is unclear. This doesn’t send a good message to those companies wanting to develop cutting-edge renewable energy technologies in Australia, and could see those companies take their business elsewhere,” Thornton added.

“It was also disappointing to see almost $260 million in funding scrapped for large-scale solar research and the Low Carbon Communities grants that were designed to improve energy efficiency for communities and vulnerable consumers and help them save on their power bills,” he said.

Mr Thornton welcomed the move to leave the $1.2 billion in funding for the Clean Technology Program intact; including $160 million in funding that has been brought forward to help companies become more energy efficient.

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