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The Federal Government has announced a $1.9 billion investment package for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) that will secure its future beyond 2022 and allow it to continue its work to support low-emission technologies across the innovation chain.

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said the government is supporting the next generation of energy technologies with an extra $1.62 billion for ARENA to invest, as well as expanding the focus of ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to back new technologies that will cut emissions in agriculture, manufacturing, industry and transport.

The government will provide ARENA with guaranteed baseline funding of $1.43 billion over ten years. ARENA’s baseline funding will be supplemented in two ways:

  • Together with the Clean Energy Regulator, ARENA will be approved to deploy a portion of the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund
  • ARENA will also become a clean technology grants hub for future initiatives, with a new $193.4 million provided to deploy targeted programs

“Our JobMaker plan is about protecting and creating the jobs of today and positioning Australia for the jobs of the future, which is why our investment in new technologies is so crucial,” Mr Morrison said.

“Australia is in the midst of a world-leading boom in renewable energy with over $30 billion invested since 2017. Solar panels and wind farms are now clearly commercially viable and have graduated from the need for government subsidies and the market has stepped up to invest.

“The government will now focus its efforts on the next challenge: unlocking new technologies across the economy to help drive down costs, create jobs, improve reliability and reduce emissions. 

“This will support our traditional industries – manufacturing, agriculture, transport – while positioning our economy for the future.

“These investments create jobs and they bring new technologies into play. 

“This will not only cut emissions, but deliver the reliable energy Australia needs while driving down prices for homes and businesses.”

ARENA Chair, Justin Punch, said that he was pleased that ARENA is seen as a key delivery agent for the Australian Government.

“It is critically important that through agencies like ARENA, we bring to bear the most effective tools and technologies to support the clean energy transition and help Australia reduce its emissions,” Mr Punch said.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, welcomed the new funding and an ongoing role for the agency.

“We are delighted to see ARENA’s important role acknowledged with new funding, and we welcome a new era for ARENA,” Mr Miller said.

“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.” 

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 said its 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,” Mr Miller said.

“ARENA has played a key role in reducing the cost and increasing the supply of renewable energy for the past eight years. 

“We look forward to continuing this important work with the next generation of energy technologies.”

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