The Commonwealth Government announced earlier today $1.9 billion in funding for a range of energy initiatives, including:
$1.62 billion over 10 years in funding for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which includes $1.42 billion in baseline funding, and funding that is allocated for specific purposes, such as $68 million for the Technology Co-Investment Fund and $53.5 million for microgrids.
$94 million for a Technology Co-Investment Fund to help businesses in the agriculture, manufacturing, industrial and transport sectors to adopt technologies that increase productivity and reduce emissions. $68 million of this funding will be spent via ARENA and $27.4 million through other routes. The nature of the Technology Co-Investment Fund is currently unclear, but it’s possible that it might be used to support innovative practices such as heat pumps in industry.
$52 million for energy efficiency programs, including:
$12 million in grants for pubs and small hotels to invest in energy efficiency;
$12 million in grants for community organisations to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy;
$28 million for a range of unspecified measures. We understand that this will include funding measures such as the ongoing operation and expansion of the NABERS program and the Low Emission Trajectory for buildings.
The most significant measure is $1.62 billion in funding for ARENA, as this funding was essential for ARENA’s continued operation. The mandate of ARENA has also been expanded from just renewable energy to also cover technologies such as energy efficiency, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. What specific priorities ARENA will have on energy management is unclear, and will likely be developed over the next 6-12 months.
The other funding measures are modest but welcome – especially the funding for the continuation of low-cost but high-impact measures such as the NABERS rating program for buildings.
The EEC’s CEO, Luke Menzel, has played a pivotal role in advocating for further funding for ARENA and expansion of its role, and it is gratifying to see the results of his campaigning. The Technology Co-investment fund is also likely to be an outcome of the joint advocacy by the EEC and a range of well-respected organisations, who have been advocating for funding for energy management in businesses and households.
However, we believe that energy efficiency could play a far more significant role in creating jobs and stimulating Australia’s economy. As we noted earlier this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommend that governments invest in energy efficiency as it is the MOST jobs-rich field, far ahead of traditional sources of energy.
Construction and manufacturing jobs created per million dollars of capital investment in the Sustainable Recovery Plan
Accordingly, the EEC will continue to advocate for the Australian, state and territory governments to build on today’s announcements and make significant commitments to invest in upgrading schools, hospitals and public housing, helping manufacturers to cut their energy bills; and supporting households and businesses to save energy in their buildings.
As Luke said today, “Put simply, energy efficiency is a jobs machine. It is time to start it up.”
Head of Policy
Energy Efficiency Council
Connect with Rob on LinkedIn