Australia’s two renewable energy agencies will have their mandates expanded to enable them to invest in low-emissions technologies.
Under the new legislation announced by the federal government on Thursday, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will be allowed to support technologies that produce a low level of emissions.
Currently ARENA can only support renewable energy while the CEFC is limited to technologies that produce less than half the emissions of the grid average.
“Low emissions” was not defined in the plan but it identified eligible technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and soil carbon sequestration whereby carbon is stored in soil.
“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,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“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.”
The government has also announced 1.9 billion Australian dollars (1.38 billion U.S. dollars) in ongoing funding for ARENA, CEFC and the Clean Energy Regulator.
It will spend 95.4 million Australian dollars (69.4 million U.S. dollars) establishing a Technology Co-Investment Fund to help industries reduce their emissions.
“The government recognizes the strong growth in emerging energy technologies that will play a role in Australia’s energy mix into the future. We need to get the balance right and our investment to re-energize ARENA will deliver that,” Angus Taylor, minister for energy and emissions reduction said.
“ARENA has played an important role in this growth, and as the cost of renewable technologies has fallen dramatically, the government is investing in the future of ARENA to support the next generation of energy technologies.”