NATIONAL: Australia’s clean energy industry has welcomed the Rudd Government’s increased investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the 2010 Federal Budget, but says much work is still required.

The Federal Government will provide $652.5 million over four years to establish a Renewable Energy Future Fund as well as $1.8 billion for the Resource Exploration Refundable Tax Offset, under which technologies such as geothermal and wave will be eligible.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said the new funding initiative was consistent with industry submissions and reflected the development of a more sophisticated strategy to nurture Australia’s fledgling clean tech industry.

“Australia has genuine potential to pioneer new affordable and innovative ways of generating clean energy,” Mr Warren said. “If we want to be a smart clean tech innovator then the companies developing these technologies need the capital to fast track their projects and show us what they can do.

“Innovation is inherently risky. There will be trial and error, success and failure. We cannot afford to delay important technical breakthroughs or lose smart companies overseas simply because they were starved of investment.”

The Renewable Energy Future Fund will encourage partnerships between the Government and the private sector to leverage venture capital and support investments in new renewable technologies like geothermal, wave power and tidal power. It will also be used to encourage energy efficiency measures to help businesses and households reduce their energy consumption.

Mr Warren said it was important that government support recognized the different stages of clean technology development, which may require different types of financial support.

“Until we have some clear carbon price, Australia’s climate strategy will need to focus on developing and deploying clean energy technologies, development of a comprehensive and effective energy efficiency strategy and more dynamic electricity networks that enable these new clean power stations to get their energy to market,” he said.

“That means we need the swift reform of the Renewable Energy Target in this session of Parliament as well as development of targeted clean tech assistance.

“Last night’s budget was a step in the right direction. But there is still more work to be done”..

You can view this article on the Clean Energy Council website.