ARENA welcomes new commitment to renewable innovation

Construction on Moree Solar Farm
Construction on Moree Solar Farm

The Federal Government this week announced its intention to retain the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), expand its renewables mandate to include energy efficiency and low emissions technology, and make changes to its funding.

CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the decision, which includes creating a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund, was a vote of confidence in ARENA and the CEFC.

“ARENA and the CEFC have a long history of successfully working together to advance the deployment of renewable energy technologies in Australia and the new Fund will enable us to build on our efforts to date,” he said.

“ARENA and the CEFC have provided complementary funding support and debt financing for a range of innovative renewable energy projects across the country including Australia’s largest renewable mining project at the Degrussa Copper-Gold mine in the West and the Barcaldine and Moree Solar farms in the east.

“Earlier this week we saw the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort start generating enough solar power to cover up to 30 per cent of the resort’s daytime use. This solar project is notable because it was already commercially viable. The CEFC provided $4.7 million debt finance and ARENA provided $450,000 to ensure the lessons learned are shared with industry because that is how we can drive progress, save money and avoid re-inventing the wheel.”

A number of projects short-listed for the ARENA $100 million large-scale solar round are also seeking project finance from the CEFC under its $250 million large-scale solar program.

The roles of ARENA and CEFC are distinct but complementary. ARENA will continue to work with the CEFC to manage the $1 billion CEIF to commercialise innovative renewable energy projects using equity and debt instruments as a key part of the government’s forward-facing clean energy agenda.

Under the proposed changes, ARENA would continue to manage its existing portfolio of projects and deliver its $100 million large-scale solar round but thereafter would shift its balance from a primarily grant based role to more of a debt and equity basis under the CEIF, which is due to commence July 1, 2016.