Aus Institute: $460m lifeline needed to save ARENA

ARENA anniversary

The Australia Institute has called for an “urgent, two-year extension of funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)” to maintain its role in improving energy reliability and reducing costs as Australia transitions to low-carbon sources.

The proposal to provide the agency $230 million per year for 2022-23 and 2023-24 is outlined in a report and Pre-Budget Submission released today. This short-term funding solution will enable the Federal Government to deliver its promised ‘Energy Technology Investment Roadmap’ and extend the essential work of ARENA in the short-term, while a long-term plan for the organisation is negotiated.

Key points

  • From its creation in 2011 until July 2019, ARENA has provided funding of $1.44 billion to 478 projects with a total value of $5.49 billion.
  • It will run out of money for new projects around mid-2020. Annual funding of $230 million for financial years 2022-23 and 2023-24 would allow ARENA to continue supporting projects across the next two calendar years.
  • New national polling shows a majority of Australians support extending the funding.
  • An analysis of Federal Ministerial media releases shows that the Coalition Government has associated itself with ARENA’s success 149 times in the last six years.

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“ARENA has been essential in bringing down the cost of renewable energy in the last decade but its work is far from finished. The next renewable energy challenges for Australia are grid integration, storage and reliability, as well as new export opportunities in green hydrogen and zero-emissions electricity,” said Dan Cass, Energy Policy & Regulatory Lead at The Australia Institute.

“Angus Taylor told the UN Climate Conference in Madrid last December that innovation is at the core of Australia’s strategy to reduce emissions and should be an international priority. Australia needs ARENA, if we are to do our fair share of global emissions reductions.

“While a 10-year funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion is ultimately needed to guarantee the long-term future of ARENA, a two-year fully funded extension for the agency will keep clean energy innovation in Australia thriving in the short-term.

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“ARENA’s work is popular with the Australian people, who very much want to see its funding continued, and the agency enjoys broad cross party support in Parliament.”

The full report, ‘Fighting for the ARENA’, is available here.

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