The 2011 Australian Budget And Solar

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Home solar power in Australia has endured a battering over the last few weeks in terms of government support and in Tuesday night’s Australian Federal Budget announcements, it was the turn of other elements of Australia’s renewable energy sector.
  
Treasurer Wayne Swan announced an early end to the National Solar Schools Program (NSSP), will cease two years earlier in June 2013; leaving only two rounds of funding to go. 
    
According to Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet,  the saving of $156.4 million will go towards funding for energy efficiency, greenhouse and energy reporting, and Solar Cities programs. Existing Solar Cities projects will see an additional $13.7 million over two years.
   
The biggest loser from last night’s announcement was the large-scale solar focused Solar Flagships program, which will be subject to $220 million in funding cuts over 2 years from 2012-13.
  
The Connecting Renewables Program, an initiative designed to support major transmission infrastructure investments that would not otherwise proceed without Australian Government funding, will now be a $1.4 million commitment over the next 3 years. Labor had previously promised $100 million over 4 years, and $1 billion over 10 years. 
   
Aside from Solar Cities, there were a couple of other winners. The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) will receive an added $53.2 million over four years to allow it to meet additional statutory responsibilities. 
   
The Emerging Renewables program, which aims to help reduce the cost of renewable energy technologies, will be boosted from $40 million to $100 million; with the additional funding to come from unallocated funds associated with the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE).
   
Overall, renewable energy in Australia lost far more than it gained in last night’s Budget. John Grimes, CEO of the the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES), described the Budget as “disappointing”.
   
“It is now even more important that the Federal Government allocates 25% of the revenue from a carbon price to an independent Green Investment Bank for investment in research and development, demonstration and early commercialisation of large-scale solar and the emerging energy sources,” said Mr. Grimes.