Australia’s Budget – Renewable Energy Future Fund Announced

The Australian Federal Government handed down its 2010/2011 budget a short time ago, a pre-election budget that Treasurer Swan said prior would be a “no-frills” affair.

Leading up to the Budget, Australian Greens leader Bob Brown said the Government should take the money saved from the ill-fated emissions trading scheme and funnel it into projects that reduce carbon emissions – including solar power and other forms of renewable energy.
In relation to renewable energy, in his Budget speech Mr. Swan announced the following:
“As we continue to work to build the necessary domestic and international consensus for carbon markets, we will roll out the most substantial renewable energy plan this country has seen – consistent with our decision to increase the renewable energy target to 20 per cent by 2020.
We have already committed support for energy efficiency, renewable technologies and clean coal of over $10 billion.
Tonight I announce the next step – a new $652 million Renewable Energy Future Fund, which will be part of an expanded $5.1 billion Clean Energy Initiative.
This Fund will leverage private sector investment to support renewable energy projects, and the development and deployment of low-emissions technologies.
It will also be used to enhance Australia’s take-up of energy efficiency, including helping households and businesses reduce their energy consumption.”
According to follow-up commentary and analysis just released by the Clean Energy Council (CEC), $42m will be allocated to Renewable Energy Future Fund for 2010-11, with the majority earmarked for 2011-12.
The CEC says the aims of the Renewable Energy Future Fund are to leverage private venture capital by encouraging partnerships between the Government and the private sector in the commercialisation of new renewable technologies and to encourage energy efficiency measures to help businesses and households reduce their energy consumption.
The Government also announced  $200 million to establish a Critical Skills Investment Fund, providing up to 10,000 training places per year to be created with an initial focus on industries including renewable energy. 
An additional $102.7 million will also provide an added 600,000 home sustainability assessments under the now rather unusually named “Green Loans” program – unusually named in the sense that the Green Loans component is no longer offered after it was axed in February this year.
This news item will be updated as additional information about the Renewable Energy Future Fund becomes available.