Australia, which lags advanced nations on renewable energy because of its recent ultra-conservative policies, is taking a tiny step forward again.
A Clean Energy Innovation Fund is being established to invest in a home-grown renewable energy industry, announced Prime Minister Turnbull. The A$1 billion fund will help emerging technologies make the leap from demonstration to commercial deployment, he says.
For 10 years, it will invest A$100 million a year "in the smartest, most cutting edge Australian clean energy technologies and businesses," Turnbull told reporters. Examples are energy storage, smart grid, large-scale solar with storage, offshore energy and biofuels.
The country’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will also remain in place (the previous prime minister tried to trash them), and will jointly manage the fund.
Some call the move sleight of hand because the money for the new fund comes from the Finance Corporations’s budget. And while the Innovation Fund will provide support for early stage technologies, rather than giving grants as ARENA does, support will be in the form of loans and equity stakes.
That’s because Prime Minister Turnbull wants taxpayers to see returns for their money, but early stage technologies rarely provide returns.
Last year, the government approved its largest coal mine, but given the lack of interest from investors, it may not end up going forward.
Read our article, Ousted: Australia’s Anti-Environment Prime Minister.