Two steps forward, one step back for clean energy

AGL's Hallett Wind Farms
AGL's Hallett Wind Farms

The Federal Government’s move to keep the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and establish a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund is a welcome step forward. However, it comes at the expense of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA’s) ability to provide capital grants for innovative new clean energy projects into the future, the Clean Energy Council said today.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the government’s stated commitment to keep the CEFC was good news, as was the new partnership between ARENA and the CEFC to establish the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

“The CEFC has played a key role in driving innovation in the financing of clean energy projects throughout Australia. Cementing its future is an important step forward for the sector,” Mr Thornton said.

“We are, however, disappointed the government’s proposal would eliminate the grants funding for future renewable energy projects through ARENA, which have been crucial to the success of the agency to date.

“This is really two steps forward, one step back for clean energy innovation in Australia,” he said.

Mr Thornton said ARENA had clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the capital it has provided for technologies like large-scale solar, leading to its rapid development and substantial cost reductions over the past five years.

“A suite of other exciting new renewable technologies also require this type of support,” he said.

“The new Clean Energy Innovation Fund would provide debt and equity through the re-allocation of existing CEFC finance. We need to see further detail to understand the extent to which it could fill the void left by abolishing capital grants.

“ARENA and the CEFC have proven to be highly effective in supporting R&D, demonstrating exciting new technologies and providing innovative financing solutions to unlock opportunities and attract private investment into the sector.”