Government Axes Renewable Energy Agency Down Under

  • Date: 18/05/14
  • Kerry Brewster, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

The government plans to axe the funding body for new technologies in renewable energy, ARENA the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. According to the Treasurer, $1.3 billion in savings will go towards repairing the budget and funding policy priorities.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The clean energy industry is voicing dismay over the Government’s plan to axe the key funding body for new technologies in renewable energy.

The dismantling of ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will save more than a billion dollars. But ARENA says that money would have helped to build a $7.7 billion fleet of projects to develop solar, wave and geothermal technologies.

Kerry Brewster reports.

KERRY BREWSTER, REPORTER: Private investors in this solar demonstration plant in New South Wales say ARENA’s financial assistance was crucial.

ANDREW WANT, VASTSOLAR: Without support from ARENA for that private investment, helping absorb the risk, we would have had no option but to go offshore and try to access similar sorts of grant facilities overseas. We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to develop this technology in Australia for Australian markets.

KERRY BREWSTER: But Andrew Want says his dream of large solar thermal plants powering the nation’s cities has been dashed, with the Abbott Government announcing it will axe the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

According to the Treasurer, $1.3 billion in savings will go towards repairing the budget and funding policy priorities.

ANDREW WANT: Why Australia would want to send investment signals saying, “We are shut for business,” is beyond me.

KERRY BREWSTER: Solar businesses agree.

MARK TWIDELL, SMA: Just at a time when funding is there for the development of the future technologies, we’re scaling it back.

KERRY BREWSTER: Mark Twidell sells German-made solar investers, but he’s not sure there’ll be an Australian market to sell to.

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