Senator Ricky Muir and Clive Palmer’s PUP (Palmer United Party) have voiced support for the ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) following potential budget cuts that would cripple ARENA’s ability to make a significant difference in the solar energy industry.
Kane Thornton, Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Council, said the support for ARENA was a most welcome development.
Much Needed Support for ARENA
Mr. Thornton also said that the support of Senator Muir and others will hopefully lead to other cross bench senators to back ARENA as well. Thornton said that ARENA deserves all the support from senators given its role in developing eco-friendly energy sources and technologies.
Since ARENA was founded in 2012, it has paved the way for the creation of marine and geothermal energy and fast tracking solar research and development. For this reason, Thornton said that reducing the agency’s funds or closing it would adversely affect the development of solar power. Even now, Thornton says, several companies and sectors have thrown their support behind it.
But the effects of closing ARENA goes beyond R&D, experts say. If ARENA is shut down, it will create the impression that the Australian government is dragging its feet when it comes to implementing renewable energy. As observers note, this will have economic and political repercussions, which is why the support of the new senators for large-scale solar projects is crucial.
Support for Solar Power and Renewable Energy
The announcement of the PUP support for ARENA comes on the heels of its approval of the $20 billion Renewable Energy Target (RET), which has helped make solar panels more popular in the country.
Apart from the support voiced by the legislators, ARENA and the RET have received backing from several international and local investors, who say that their projects and investments will suffer financially if the RET is modified. This statement was issued by 17 companies that are part of the Clean Energy Council, and they were addressed to state Energy Ministers and federal MPs as well.
The statement, which came out at the same time as the Clean Energy Week conference was being held, is expected to have a major impact on these issues. In addition, figures were released by Bloomberg New Energy Finance which indicated that Australia’s clean energy sector suffered its worst investment stretch this year since 2001. Experts in the industry agree that this drop was due to the uncertainties the renewable energy sector now faces.
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The letter said in part that reducing the scheme and shutting down ARENA will “send a negative signal” to businesses and investors who seek to invest in sound infrastructure. If drastic changes are made, the companies warn, it could damage Australia’s reputation in the clean energy sector and hinder development.
The statement held the signatures of local companies like Pacific Hydro and Hydro Tasmania as well as international companies Infigen Energy, Accionia and GE. Together, the companies stated that their commitment to these large-scale solar projects amount to more than $10 billion.