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Renewable energy agency to be created

4th Nov 2011

Australia is moving one step closer to achieving its 2020 renewable energy target.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is to be established as part of the Gillard government’s Clean Energy Future package and will act as an additional resource to help the country achieve its goal of 20 per cent renewable energy in the next nine years.

According to the Gillard government, ARENA will centralise the administration of $3.2 billion worth of support for renewable energy projects and grants - all of which are currently managed by a range of organisations.

"The establishment of ARENA as an independent statutory body presents a unique opportunity to adopt a holistic approach to financing the research, development, commercialisation and demonstration of renewable energy technologies," according to a government publication.

Projects such as solar, biomass, biofuels, ocean and geothermal projects are expected to come under ARENA's control.

Last month, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reported that global investment in solar power increased by nine per cent in the third quarter of 2011, with investment in clean energy technology totalling $45.4 billion.

The Clean Energy Future package anticipates record support for renewable energies, with $100 billion in investment predicted for the sector over the period to 2050.

The government has highlighted the importance of innovation in the industry and has incentives planned for both renewable energy providers and households.

However, households may be concerned with how much the switch to clean energy is going to cost, particularly with the introduction of the carbon price.

According to analysis conducted by the University of Canberra's National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) estimates that the overall net gain to rate-payers will be $2.50 per week - a figure made possible through tax cuts and government payments.

Assistance to households includes increasing the tax-free threshold for low-income earners, and increasing benefits received by families, pensioners and those with a disability.

The government claims all assistance - payments and tax cuts - will be permanent and increase over time, while more than 50 per cent of the carbon price revenue will be used to support

Clean Energy Council chief executive Matthew Warren believes nine out of every ten Australians support the implementation of renewable energy - and the Australian government's approach to the issue is not unusual when compared to other countries.

Debate on the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Bill 2011 continues.

Posted by Bob Dawson - News editor

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