News National Renewable sector fears funding cuts

Renewable sector fears funding cuts

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The renewable energy sector has expressed dismay that the Abbott government has flagged about $435 million in cuts to the national agency overseeing clean technology.

The sector claims the Abbott government had outlined budget cuts to the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) within its carbon tax repeal legislation.

The Clean Energy Council says within that legislation was a provision to reduce funding to ARENA for new projects by $435 million over the next three years.

The council’s deputy chief executive, Kane Thornton, said ARENA had enjoyed bipartisan support and the changes could undo the progress made in clean technology.

“The government gave repeated commitments on its support for ARENA prior to the election and it is disappointing that the agency is now facing a significant budget reduction,” he said in a statement.

He said current project commitments would be honoured, but the proposed changes would mean many renewable energy companies would consider offshore where investment conditions were more stable.

The government announced the established of ARENA in July 2011 as part of Labor’s clean energy laws, and it was tasked with driving investment in research and development of renewable technology.

Opposition climate change spokesman Mark Butler said the cuts weren’t flagged in the government’s draft repeal bills in October, and the coalition had previously supported ARENA.

“That must have been back when they actually cared about the environment and saw the value in renewables, like the rest of the world does,” he said in a statement.