ARENA launches new $800m investment plan

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has launched its new investment plan outlining the investment priorities, which will guide almost $800 million of future funding.

ARENA will broaden its focus to address the challenges facing the energy system as Australia transitions to a low emission economy.

“As Australia shifts from fossil fuel generation to a low emission energy system with more renewables and more distributed energy resources, we need to make sure energy is secure, reliable and affordable,” ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said.

The plan, titled Innovating Energy, sets out four new priorities: delivering a secure and reliable electricity system; accelerating solar PV innovation; improving energy productivity; and exporting renewable energy.

“We are looking for new ways to adapt our electricity grid to increase productivity, make the grid more flexible and better integrate renewable energy so it can be stored and shared when and where it is needed,” Mr Frischknecht said

“As part of this focus, we will be looking at a range of flexible capacity technologies and mechanisms from storage to demand response that will allow us to match electricity supply and demand at all times.

“ARENA will also look for technologies that control voltage or frequency to make the grid more stable, or capture real-time data to detect and respond to power issues.

“We want to demonstrate how renewable energy can add value to the electricity system while also minimising costs and maintaining security and reliability.

Innovating Energy builds on the success of ARENA’s previous work, which has seen successes such driving down the cost of large scale solar through 12 new solar farms, and the breaking of 14 world solar efficiency records.

Coinciding with the Innovating Energy announcement, ARENA has also launched A-Lab, a series of innovation and collaboration laboratories bringing together energy players – from start-ups to major grid companies and energy providers – to help develop these projects.

ARENA will also focus specifically on research and development of solar PV.

“Australia has some of the best solar researchers in the world, and we plan to support them so they can continue making solar PV more competitive and affordable,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Mr Frischknecht said by funding further innovation, solar power could produce 30 per cent of Australia’s electricity within 20 years.

 

All applications for funding will be assessed under the new priorities from May 1.

Existing submitted applications will be assessed under the former priorities.