The federal Labor Party has disappointed the renewable energy industry with a decision to support cuts to the funding of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), an organisation it established while in government, Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said.
Thornton said the decision to support cuts of $500 million to ARENA’s funding would impact the development of clean energy in Australia, slowing the rate of development and innovation in exciting new clean energy technologies.
“A cut to ARENA’s funding is a move at odds with the Federal Government’s innovation agenda and is a disappointing change in the ALP’s position. While we recognise the budget constraints facing the nation, clean energy innovation is a crucial lever to transition the Australian economy and create investment and employment opportunities for the future,” Thornton said.
“The ALP’s position is a material improvement on the federal government’s proposal to cut all of the agency’s future grant funding. This decision will nonetheless rattle the confidence of investors in the Australian renewable energy industry who have been seeking stability after several years of uncertainty and change.
“Labor will allow $500 million of future renewable energy funding to be stripped from ARENA, an organisation which has demonstrated its effectiveness in driving innovation, leveraging private sector investment and creating jobs and new industries throughout the country since being formed in 2012.”
While the $800 million Labor has proposed to leave in ARENA’s budget would allow it to continue many critical functions, the rate it can bring forward new technologies will be constrained, he said.
“We hope that the Australian Parliament will now move quickly to resolve this situation and give the clean energy industry some certainty in the future of ARENA, allowing businesses to invest in innovation that can transition the Australian energy sector.”
Thornton said the Clean Energy Council’s Power Shift blueprint outlined a package of policy measures to deliver a zero-carbon energy system, and underlined the importance of ARENA to accelerate the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the next generation of renewable energy and storage technologies.