The Australian Government is creating a $1billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to support new renewable technologies.

The Federal Government has also decided to keep two renewable energy agencies, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will manage the new Clean Energy Innovation Fund, which aims to help renewable projects reach commercial deployment.

The agencies will work together to provide capital investment in Australian businesses and emerging clean energy technologies to accelerate their availability in the energy market.

The Clean Energy Innovation Fund will target projects such as large-scale solar with storage, offshore energy, biofuels and smart grids.

The $1billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund will be established from within the CEFC’s $10billion allocation.

This Fund will make available $100million a year for ten years.

ARENA will continue to manage its existing portfolio of grants and deliver the announced $100million large-scale solar round, and will be given an expanded focus beyond renewable energy to enable energy efficiency and low emissions technology.

This will provide greater alignment with the CEFC and ensure that ARENA is able to support the full spectrum of emerging clean energy technology options.

Once the $100million large-scale solar round is complete, ARENA will move from a grant based role to predominantly a debt and equity basis under the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

The Northern Territory Government has welcomed the announcement of the fund and the decision to keep the two renewable energy agencies.

Northern Territory Minister for Essential Services, Peter Chandler, said the decision to retain agencies will assist the Territory to progress with integrating renewable energy right across the Top End.

“We will work together with Commonwealth agencies to deliver renewable energy to locations in the Territory, particularly in our remote communities.

“We currently have a program that deploys 10MW of solar energy to 30 remote communities across the Territory.

“Not only will this benefit the communities, it will reduce the dependency on diesel out bush and lessens the associated environmental impact.”

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) has also welcomed the announcement.

ENA CEO, John Bradley, said energy networks support innovation to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

“It’s great to see a focus on smart grids in the Fund, given electricity and gas networks will be a critical platform for a low emission future,” Mr Bradley said.

“Real innovation in low emissions energy solutions will be driven by customer choices and enabled by smart electricity and gas networks.

“It’s important this new fund supports a level playing field where technologies compete to lower emissions efficiently for Australian consumers.”

Mr Bradley said the Fund should leverage an innovation database of renewable energy grid integration projects – Integrating Renewables into the Grid Stocktake – hosted by Australian networks in a partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

“The integration of renewables is one of Australia’s greatest strengths and challenges, as an increasing fleet of intermittent, renewable generators and lower levels of conventional generation stretch our energy system resilience.

“Australia is at the frontier of managing these issues and there is a lot more to learn in the transition to a smarter, more resilient grid.”

Mr Bradley said reducing carbon emissions in electricity markets would require an economic mix of renewable energy, energy storage and low emission, responsive gas-fired generation.

Solutions to support Australia’s energy transition are currently being evaluated by the ENA as part of its 18-month Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap project being conducted with CSIRO.

The announcement of the fund aims to work hand in hand with the Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund, the Renewable Energy Target, the National Energy Productivity Plan and the Government’s broader support for clean energy to reduce emissions and drive productivity across the energy sector. 

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