Global clean energy leaders have called on the Australian Government to back funding for renewable energy projects, following suggestions on both sides of the political aisle that they will hamstring the Australian Renewable Energy Agency from funding future renewable energy projects.
Both the Liberal and Labor parties in Australia have suggested they will cut or eradicate the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) ability to fund renewable energy projects. Australia’s Clean Energy Council (CEC) argued late August to protect ARENA’s renewable energy funding piggy-bank, arguing that “Legislation to be introduced to Parliament this week includes a $1 billion cut to ARENA’s grants funding, and puts everything that it has achieved at risk.”
Following up on its own petition, the Clean Energy Council this week published an open letter signed by an impressive list of global clean energy leaders, calling on the Australian Government to protect ARENA’s funding.
“Investment confidence would be again undermined if one of the first moves of the new parliament is to cut funding to Australia’s key clean energy agency. This would damage Australia’s reputation and unsettle investors, again,” says the letter.
“Clean energy is one of Australia’s best opportunities for jobs, growth and innovation. ARENA’s ability to deliver new grant programs is at risk with legislation before the Australian Parliament that would substantially cut its future funding. While we respect the fiscal challenges facing the government and the nation, we believe that cutting ARENA’s budget would be short-sighted.”
The signatories include Australian utilities such as AGL and Hydro Tasmania, as well as global clean energy juggernauts such as Canadian Solar, First Solar, Gamesa, and Vestas. (The full letter can be seen below.)
The Clean Energy Council explains that up to $1.3 billion of ARENA’s funding is currently at risk under planned legislation from the Federal Government’s omnibus bill, which would significantly restrict financial support for renewable energy projects across Australia, hamstringing the growth of a vital new energy industry.
“The innovations that ARENA is funding today will power the engine of tomorrow’s economy. The grants provided by the agency are modest investments that will lead to the jobs and investment of the future,” said Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton. “Hundreds of projects have been funded to date, and hundreds more are needed if we are to transform Australia’s energy system at the lowest possible cost to consumers.”
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