The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has delivered a thinly veiled criticism of the Coalition decision to remove its grant-funding ability, saying it will make it harder to bridge the “valley of death” for new technologies.
The Coalition announced last month that it would scrap the $1.3 billion in legislated but uncommitted funds from ARENA, although it would preserve the agency by giving it a new role “advising” on the new Clean Energy Innovation Fund.
The CEIF, using $1 billion of previously allocated funds from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, will only invest in equity and finance, so it could retrieve its investment rather than handing them out through grants.
The CEIF was welcomed, but the removal of the grant-based funding was questioned by many, including the former ARENA chairman Greg Bourne, who said that it would remove an important funding mechanism that was critical for early-stage technologies and R&D.
On Thursday, Danny De Schutter, ARENA’s senior strategy consultant, said the changes flagged by the government would represent a “considerable shift” in the agency’s ability to support early stage innovation.