12 November 2012
A new program to increase renewable energy uptake in regional and remote Australia was announced today by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of the release of its inaugural General Funding Strategy.
ARENA Chair Greg Bourne said ARENA has published the General Funding Strategy and an accompanying Investment Plan for 2012-15, which includes strategic, supporting and complementary initiatives to drive long-term change.
“The General Funding Strategy will allow ARENA to be innovative, action-orientated and nimble, which aligns with the advice the industry gave us,” Mr Bourne said.
The Investment Plan includes four new programs aimed at delivering renewable systems in regional and remote locations, removing roadblocks for regional and remote renewable energy, building Australia’s next generation solar and developing a comprehensive knowledge sharing program.
“The Regional Australia’s Renewables program will aim to deliver renewable systems in regional locations where energy consumption is forecast to increase and where fossil fuel-based generation costs are the greatest,” Mr Bourne said.
The popular Emerging Renewables program and the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund remain open for business. ARENA’s current portfolio includes a range of renewable energy projects, soon to be supplemented by solar research and development projects from the Australian Solar Institute.
ARENA’s support for solar energy will continue by running new rounds of the Australian Solar Institute’s successful PhD scholarship and post-doctorate fellowship program, delivering the next generation of Australian solar researchers.
Mr Bourne said ARENA has made tough decisions on projects referred to it from the Solar Flagships Program resulting in an increase to $2.2 billion in funds available for investment.
“ARENA continues to support large-scale solar projects, such as the AGL-First Solar thin-film PV solar project previously announced by the Australian Government,” Mr Bourne said.
“We are also continuing discussions with Moree Solar Farm and Infigen-Suntech on potential projects based on their short-listed Solar Flagships program applications.”
Mr Bourne said ARENA is not pursuing the TRUenergy (now EnergyAustralia) project because of its broad similarity to the AGL Energy project. After exploring several options to address current market conditions, ARENA is also no longer pursuing development of the 250 MW Solar Dawn solar thermal project in Queensland.
The General Funding Strategy is a framework for ARENA’s operations and outlines priorities for the coming three years. It will be updated annually. ARENA will release new investment plans as additional initiatives are developed.