The Queensland Government has recently held an urgent meeting with the Australian Solar Council to discuss the impact on regional Queensland projects following the Federal Government’s cuts to renewable energy funding.
Cuts to funding were revealed in the Australian Government announcement to establish a $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund to be jointly managed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
ARENA will continue to manage its existing portfolio of grants and deliver the announced $100 million large-scale solar round, however, once the 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 Australian Solar Council, the peak body for the solar industry, said the announcement means a loss of $1.3billion in renewable energy budget funding.
The council said ARENA has $1.3billion in allocated and unspent funds between 2016-2022 and the Government has announced it will replace this with $1billion in funds between 2016 and 2026, taken from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s existing $10billion budget.
The Australian Solar Council said this amounts to $1.3billion in funding stripped from ARENA and $1billion reallocated from within the CEFC.
QLD Energy Minister, Mark Bailey, has said, “This is a critical issue for regional Queensland, as there are shortlisted solar projects ready to go, to help transition to a clean energy economy.
“ARENA is a key partner of the QLD Government in delivering renewable energy projects and jobs across the state. If it loses its capability for competitive grant funding then that means renewable energy projects that can deliver jobs in regional Queensland simply won’t happen once this round is complete.
“Not one large solar project has been financed since the election of Tony Abbott, and things are getting worse under Malcolm Turnbull. I call on the Prime Minister to urgently rethink these massive cuts, and get on board with us turning the Sunshine State into the Solar State.”
John Grimes, Chief Executive of the Australian Solar Council, said the $1.3billion cut to renewables funding is bad news for Queensland’s economy and for regional jobs.
“The QLD Government has shown national leadership by committing to 50 per cent renewables by 2030, but Malcolm Turnbull has pulled the rug from under Queensland’s economic and environmental future,” Mr Grimes said.
“These projects deliver jobs and investment into regional communities that need them most, while at the same time we can be taking effective action to address climate change.
“I congratulate Premier Palaszczuk for showing leadership in renewable energy, and committing to raise this issue nationally.”