$1 Billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund For Australia

Clean Energy Innovation Fund - Australia

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced initial details of a new $1 Billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF).

The Fund will reportedly invest up to $100 million per year over ten years in emerging technologies. The CEIF will be run by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

“We are promoting innovation and new economic opportunities, enhancing our productivity, protecting our environment and reducing emissions to tackle climate change,” said the Prime Minister.

One of the projects tipped to get assistance is a solar thermal power station in Port Augusta, South Australia; a blueprint for which was published in 2012.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt quashed rumours yesterday evening that the CEFC and ARENA would be merged.

“We’re not merging CEFC & ARENA. The report is wrong. Typical of Labor to get basic facts wrong,” he stated on his Twitter account.

While Minister Hunt has also stated there is “no change in the policy” regarding the organisations, with the Clean Energy Innovation Fund in place it signals some shifting of the crosshairs off the CEFC and ARENA. Both organisations have been under threat since ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s tumultuous reign; but attempts to axe the agencies have been blocked twice in the Senate.

There is some skepticism about the new fund.

Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton said the proposal is giving with one hand while taking from the other.

“So this proposal obviously keeps the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and that’s a welcome development,” he said in an ABC interview. “But essentially it is removing funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and really I guess constraining it in terms of its ability to provide capital grants to the sector into the future.”

SBS reports funding for the Clean Energy Innovation Fund will be established from within the CEFC’s $10 billion allocation and ARENA will continue to manage its existing portfolio of grants. However, once the $100 million large-scale solar power round is completed, it will move from a grant-based role to a “debt and equity basis” and will be directed focus on energy efficiency and low-emissions technology.