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Carbon Tax: Renewables take centre stage

Under the Federal Government’s carbon tax proposal, a $10 billion new commercially-oriented Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will be established to drive innovation through commercial investments in clean energy through loans, loan guarantees and equity investments.

The CEFC will leverage private sector financing for renewable energy and clean technology projects, investments critical to the transformation of the Australian economy. It will identify projects and remove barriers that would otherwise prevent the financing of large scale renewable energy projects.

Investments will focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies and the transformation of existing manufacturing businesses to re-focus on meeting demand for inputs for these sectors.

The CEFC will be run by an independent Board made up of experts in banking, investment management and clean energy and low emissions technologies.

Also, a new, independent statutory body, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will be created to coordinate around $3.2 billion in existing grant funding programs supporting research, development and demonstration of new renewable energy technologies.

Carbon Tax: Renewable Energy will be the focus.

Driving innovation in clean technologies is a major element of the proposed carbon tax plan. (Source: Clean Energy Future.)

ARENA will incorporate initiatives previously administered separately, including by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy and the Australian Solar Institute.

ARENA will fund:
* Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund
* Emerging Renewables Program.

ARENA will oversee existing Government support for programs such as:
* Solar Flagships Program
* Renewable Energy Demonstration Program and Solar Projects
* Australian Biofuels Research Institute
* Geothermal Drilling Program
* Connecting Renewables Initiative.

ARENA will also receive future funding from:
* dividends paid by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC)
* future carbon price revenue should the Jobs and Competitiveness Program be modified following Productivity Commission reviews.

It will complement the CEFC which targets the financial barriers to large scale commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy technologies.

ARENA’s board will include members with experience in the technology streams that are likely to be considered. The board will also include expertise in commercialisation generally, and business experience specifically.

Roughly equal representation between technology skills and commercialisation and business experience will provide balanced recommendations in terms of project viability and the technology ‘fit’.

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