The Australian Government proposes to strip the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) of most of its funding, as well as its ability to make R&D grants. This is an existential threat to renewable energy research, innovation and education in Australia.
About 200 Australian solar energy researchers signed an open letter in defence of ARENA. Readers are able to express their views by making a submission to a Senate inquiry, as described below.
ARENA provides most of the funds granted to Australian R&D groups, as well as supporting early stage commercialisation, remote renewable energy deployment, the transition to large scale renewable energy generation and a wide range of other activities.
For 30 years there has been an Australia renewable energy funding agency in one form or another in Australia. This has led to great success in generation of technology and provision of education. The current and former Chair of the Board of ARENA have defended ARENA and its track record.
If ARENA is debilitated then hundreds of people in universities, CSIRO and small companies would lose their jobs within a year or two as existing research contracts roll off. They would leave the field or leave the country. In the longer term, Australia’s engagement in renewable energy would greatly diminish.
This would be at odds with the government’s innovation agenda and its commitment at the Paris climate change conference to double clean energy R&D by 2020 under the international Mission Innovation program.
The position of the ALP and the Xenaphon team is not clarified. It would be very disappointing if the ALP allowed ARENA to be debilitated, considering that the ALP set up ARENA in the first place and talked at length about the desirability of renewable energy during the recent election campaign. Readers might like to express their views directly to their political representatives.
The “Omnibus Bill”, which includes ARENA debilitation, has been referred to the Senate Economics Committee. Submissions on this Bill are invited, and are due on Wednesday 7th September for review and report on Tuesday 13th September.
Submissions can be as little as half a page or so, and can be emailed to [email protected]. Only 5-10 minutes is required for the whole process.