October 27, 2020

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ARENA secures funding for renewable energy

The Australian Government on 17 September 2020 announced new long-term funding and an expanded focus for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency that will secure its future beyond 2022.

The Prime Minister and Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction announced a total funding package of $1.62 billion for ARENA including guaranteed baseline funding of $1.43 billion over the next ten years.

This new funding and expanded focus will allow ARENA to continue its work together with energy industry participants, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, research institutions and other agencies to support low emission technologies across the innovation chain.

The Chair of ARENA was pleased that ARENA is seen as a key delivery agent for the Australian Government. It is critically important that through agencies like ARENA, the most effective tools and technologies are brought to bear to support the clean energy transition and help Australia reduce its emissions, he said.

The CEO of ARENA welcomed the new funding and an ongoing role for the agency. The agency is delighted to see its important role acknowledged with new funding, and we welcome a new era for ARENA. There is still much work to be done but with an experienced team, industry knowledge and strong networks across a range of technologies and sectors, ARENA is well-positioned to support Australia’s energy transformation and emissions reduction goals, he added.

Over its lifetime, ARENA has helped to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies such as large scale solar, grid-scale batteries, pumped hydro, bioenergy, distributed energy technologies and hydrogen. Since 2012, ARENA has supported 543 projects with $1.58 billion of funding that has leveraged nearly $5 billion in additional private and public sector investment.

As technologies have matured, ARENA’s focus has evolved from supporting pure renewable energy generation technologies to assisting with the integration of these technologies to support the operation of the system with ever-increasing shares of variable renewable energy. ARENA’s current investment priorities include a focus on integrating renewables into the grid, accelerating the uptake of hydrogen and supporting industry to reduce emissions.

Technology and innovation are critical to the energy transition and to Australia’s efforts to reduce emissions and create new economic opportunities. ARENA has played a key role in reducing the cost and increasing the supply of renewable energy for the past eight years. The agency aims to continue its important work with the next generation of energy technologies.

A report by Australia’s leading climate change communications non-profit organisation noted that COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped the world we know, taking a horrendous toll on human health and the economy. While the response has not been perfect, Australia has so far managed this crisis far better than many comparable countries.

Federal, state and territory governments have been relying on expert, evidence-based advice to lead their response to the crisis. This crisis is far from over. But another, more long-term crisis remains an urgent threat to humanity: climate change.

The report found that a resilient recovery from the coronavirus must prepare Australia for the next major threat – climate change. The potential for job creation in the renewables sector is substantial and can set the country up for the 21st Century.

A goal of net-zero emissions must include:

  1. Replacing all fossil fuels with other energy sources or processes.
  2. Meeting the nation’s energy needs with renewable electricity.
  • Stepping up as a global exporter of zero-emissions energy, technology and expertise to help the rest of the world reduce their emissions with Australian power, products and services.
  1. Taking action on the land and coasts to build future resilience to climate threats.