Australia dumps renewable energy agency

The Australian Government has axed the agency that provides assistance to the renewables industry as well as a host of climate-based research initiatives. Called the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The Australian Government has axed the agency that provides assistance to the renewables industry as well as a host of climate-based research initiatives.

Called the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), it was formed in July 2012 to drive research and investment in clean energy and help bring new and emerging technologies into production.

The Coalition had reportedly pledged its support for ARENA before the election but the Government said it would scrap the agency as part of the Budget delivered yesterday.

ARENA will be merged into the Department of Industry – which is expected to save AU$1.3 billion (£0.7bn) – but will maintain funds worth AU$1 billion (£0.6bn) for 181 projects that had already been contracted.

The repeal would have to pass the Senate before any of the proposed changes can be implemented, ARENA said.

Chair Greg Bourne added: “In the meantime, ARENA will continue to perform its functions under the ARENA Act, including accepting and assessing applications.”

The Government also announced funding worth AU$2.55 billion (£1.4bn) to create the Emissions Reduction Fund, which will replace carbon pricing. However, the cash will be spread out over 10 years instead of the four years as previously promised.

It said in a statement: “Through the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Government will support Australian businesses and households to lower their energy costs at the same time as reducing Australia’s emissions.”

It has also pledged to create a “Green Army” – a 15,000-strong workforce – and plant 20 million native trees while contributing to emissions reductions.

Australia has set a target of cutting the nation’s emissions by 5% below 2000 levels by the end of the decade.