The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has called on parliamentarians to block Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s latest attempt to expand the mandate of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to allow it to fund carbon capture projects and hydrogen produced from coal and gas.
If the Minister’s new proposed regulations are accepted, ARENA could be used to fund:
- Anything that is a ‘low-emission technology’ (with the ‘widest possible meaning’).
- Anything that is a priority in the government’s Technology Investment Roadmap (which includes carbon capture projects and hydrogen produced from coal and gas).
“Parliament recently saw off the Morrison’s government’s proposed changes to Australia’s other important clean energy bank – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation – and the same should happen to this plan for ARENA,” said ACF climate change campaigner Petra Stock.
“Minister Taylor’s proposed regulations contradict ARENA’s intended role and would set it up to become a financier to the coal and gas industries.”
This move comes as the government confirms it will put $600 million towards a new gas-fired power plant in the Hunter Valley, despite experts saying it’s not needed and makes no commercial sense.
Last week Resources Minister Keith Pitt used a legislative instrument to allocate $50 million to a Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program to ‘encourage and facilitate accelerated gas exploration in the Beetaloo sub-basin’ in the Northern Territory.
“ACF calls on all parliamentarians who care about climate change to disallow Keith Pitt’s $50 million slush fund to finance gas extraction in the Beetaloo Basin and Angus Taylor’s regulation changes that will wreck ARENA,” Ms Stock said.
ARENA was set up in 2012. It has been very successful in driving innovation in renewable energy technologies. Since its inception, ARENA has invested $1.67 billion into 579 projects, realising $6.84 billion in value.