Australia renewables to feel penny pinch

Australia's Coalition government has put forward legislation that will cut funding to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) by almost A$435m ($403.9m), representing more than half of its funding through 2017, according to a recent Climate Spectator report.

By K.Steiner-Dicks on Dec 3, 2013

The budget passed by the previous Labor administration in May specified that A$776.2m should be provided to ARENA from 2014-15 to 2016-17, deferring A$370m for the following years. The Coalition plans, however, have more teeth and are to amend the ARENA Act by following through on the deferment while also permanently cutting funding by A$434.9m.

ARENA, however, remains optimistic about what it can achieve with the amount allotted to the organisation over the next decade, but mostly for existing and not new projects. ARENA said in a statement that the planned cuts this still leaves it with more than A$2.5bn over the next 10 years, but this includes money already committed to large-scale projects. A cut of this size will mean that a large proportion of ARENA’s capital will be tied up in existing projects, leaving it with very little left over to invest in new projects, Labor Climate Change Spokesperson Mark Butler said.

ARENA has committed A$960m of funds to clean energy research projects since it was launched in 2011.

According to the Climate Spectator report, a spokesperson from ARENA said that it still has about A$200m left over for unallocated funding in its estimates, but Climate Spectator estimates that this represents less than a third of the capital it had initially reserved for new projects.