The R In ARENA Is For Renewable

ARENA regulations change

Labor says it will attempt to thwart the Morrison Government’s action to divert the Australian Renewable Energy Agency from focusing on renewables.

ARENA was established in 2011 to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia. That’s not my interpretation of its role, it’s what is stated as the object of the ARENA Act 2011.

ARENA was established by a Labor Government, but with support from the Liberal-National Opposition. That support has wavered at various times since. A guy named Tony Abbott took a shot at axing it, but was unsuccessful. However, the attacks haven’t stopped, just changed.

The Morrison Government has wanted ARENA to expand its focus for quite a while; last year pushing for it to support Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), which had been off-limits previously.

But Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor recently expanded ARENA’s remit through a change in regulations to again include funding carbon capture and storage (CCS) and also “clean” hydrogen projects.

The problem with hydrogen (aside from hydrogen hype generally) is there are three different “types”:

  • brown: produced using coal
  • blue: produced using gas
  • green: produced using renewables

It appears that under the regulation changes, blue hydrogen would not be off the table as the Morrison Government considers gas to be low-emissions. Among the concerns about CCS – aside from its commercial viability – is it could prolong the use of fossil fuels and all the problems that come with them.

ARENA doesn’t seem overly fussed about the expanded focus – but then there’s the old wisdom about pooping in your own nest; although it could be argued supporting CCS and blue hydrogen would be exactly that.

“This allows ARENA to continue to be the Agency that works at the forefront of innovation,” stated ARENA CEO Darren Miller. “As technologies such as solar and wind mature, we must be able to move forward and support the next generation of clean energy technologies.”

Mr Miller made similar comments last year when the CCS push occurred.

Renewable: It’s In The Name

But Labor is having none of it.

“The idea of giving Fantastic Angus a blank cheque to decide what is and isn’t ‘low emissions’ technology is a joke,” said Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen.

Mr. Bowen says what Minister Taylor wants to do would require legislation, not just a change in regulations.

“Labor will therefore also ask the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Delegated Legislation to consider the validity of the Regulations,” he stated.

Mr. Bowen is calling on the Greens and cross-bench to support Labor’s motion of disallowance. It shouldn’t have any problems with the former considering the Greens were dead against the changes from the day the party became aware of them.

“Good to hear Labor will also oppose government plan to turn Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency into a fossil fuel funder, which Greens announced last week we’d move to disallow,” tweeted Greens leader Adam Bandt yesterday afternoon. “Together w crossbench we can kill this in the Senate.”

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. “Mr. Bowen is calling on the Greens and cross-bench to support Labor’s motion of disallowance. It shouldn’t have any problems with the former considering the Greens were dead against the changes from the day the party became aware of them.”

    As long as the power in the Senate remains as it is…
    Come the election, I wonder what the balance of power in the Senate will be…

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