Australia to establish independent body to manage renewable energy projects

13:40, July 08, 2011      

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The Australian federal government on Friday agreed to a Greens' plan to establish an independent body to manage the more than 3.23 billion U.S. dollars worth of renewable energy projects.

A new independent statutory body, to be named the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will manage the funding through to 2019-20 for a string of renewable projects currently languishing in the Resources Department.

The agency's establishment will form part of the carbon price package to be unveiled on Sunday, but is announced by Australian Greens deputy leader Christine Milne on Friday to coincide with a 200-strong solar roundtable meeting being held in Canberra.

"It has been obvious for years that renewable energy programs in Australia are a mess of badly designed schemes run as photo opportunities rather than helping build the industry," Senator Milne told reporters in Canberra.

"ARENA will change all that."

"By bringing all this funding under an independent authority we can finally deliver the consistent, systemic support the industry needs in order to challenge coal, energise everyone working in the field, bring home many of our world leaders in renewable energy and create tens of thousands of jobs in this exciting sunrise industry."

ARENA will take on responsibility for a range of renewable projects including the Australian Solar Institute and Geothermal drilling operations.

Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the creation of the independent agency would build on Labor's good record in renewable energy.

"The Gillard Government has a strong record of delivering support to our renewable sector and ensuring that Australians get value for money on their investments," he said.

"Such as with the recently announced successful round one Solar Flagships projects."

The Greens' announcement comes out two days before the government will announce details of the carbon price on Sunday. It has been widely reported that price will be 23.6 U.S. dollars per tonne.

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