8 July 2011 – The Greens have claimed victory in the fight for a new independent authority to manage $3.2 billion of renewable energy funding in “an effective and coordinated manner” announced by the federal government today.

“As part of the agreement, all existing Commonwealth government renewable energy programs (except the Renewable Energy Target) will be administered by a new independent statutory body, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, for the first time creating a systemic, whole-of-government approach to renewable energy at arm’s length from government,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, senator Christine Milne, said.

The federal government said today that ARENA will have responsibility for managing:

  • Solar Flagships Round 1;
  • Renewable Energy Demonstration Program;
  • ACRE Solar Projects;
  • Geothermal Drilling Program projects;
  • Australian Biofuels Research Institute (ABRI) initiatives;
  • Emerging Renewables Program;
  • Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund;
  • Australian Solar Institute;
  • Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund (Solar);
  • Second Generation Biofuels Research and Development Program; and
  • unallocated funding from the Connecting Renewables Initiative.

“I am very excited about ARENA,” Australian Greens deputy leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

“It has been obvious for years that renewable energy programs in Australia are a mess of badly-designed schemes run as photo opportunities rather than helping build the industry. ARENA will change all that.”

Climate Change Minister Greg Combet and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said ARENA, would bring together in one independent statutory agency within the Resources, Energy and Tourism portfolio a range of initiatives previously administered separately through a range of bodies, including Australian Centre for Renewable Energy and the Australian Solar Institute.

“Around $1.7 billion in uncommitted funding from the range of consolidated programs will be available for the ARENA Board to direct investment in new renewable energy projects between now and 2020,” a joint statement from the ministers said.

“The Government has a strong record of delivering support to our renewable sector and ensuring that Australians get value for money on their investments, such as through the recently announced successful Round 1 Solar Flagships applicants. The establishment of ARENA will build on this record,” the ministers said.

However Ms Milne said: “By bringing all these programs under an independent authority, we can finally deliver the consistent, systemic support the industry needs in order to challenge entrenched coal.

“There are currently 11 different funding programs run by the Commonwealth government for renewable energy and, historically, almost none of them have been appropriately run.”

“Australia’s world renewable energy technologists and entrepreneurs have been forced through a boom bust cycle so many times that many give up and go overseas.

“ARENA will take the short-term politics out of renewable energy and deliver strong, consistent support to the industry so that it can be confident of a long-term, flourishing future.”

editorial@thefifthestate.com.au