On 10 July 2011 the Australian Government announced the establishment of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), as a part of its Clean Energy Future package.
ARENA is an independent statutory authority established under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, tasked with the objectives of improving the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies and increasing the supply of renewable energy in Australia. ARENA has approximately $3 billion to invest in renewable energy projects.
From its commencement on 1 July 2012, ARENA became responsible for the administration of committed projects and measures from initiatives formerly administered by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET). ARENA became responsible for the activities of the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) on 1 January 2013.
Around $2 billion of ARENA's funding is currently uncommitted and available for ARENA to invest in accordance with its functions and powers. These functions and powers include providing financial assistance for:
- research, development, demonstration, deployment and commercialisation of renewable energy and related technologies
- storage and sharing of knowledge and information about renewable energy technologies.
ARENA will also collect, analyse and share information and knowledge about renewable energy and related technologies and provide advice to the Minister for Resources and Energy regarding renewable energy and related technologies.
ARENA's approximately $3 billion in funding is legislated and extends out until 2022 providing improved long term funding and policy certainty for industry.
Additional funding may potentially be available from discretional dividends from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and from carbon price revenue currently allocated to the Jobs and Competitiveness Program.
ARENA has significant independence and flexibility in how it chooses to provide financial support to the renewable energy sector. To ensure accountability and transparency for expenditure of what is a significant sum of public funds, the Government has put in place some safeguards which ARENA must abide with when making funding decisions.
The legislation underpinning ARENA requires the Minister for Resources and Energy to approve significant program guidelines and projects, where either:
- program guidelines permit grants for projects totalling in excess of $15 million
- grants are to be awarded to projects totalling greater than $50 million.
The ARENA Board is an independent, decision making board, consisting of the Secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and six members appointed by the Minister for Resources and Energy.
Under ARENA's governance framework, the Secretary of the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism is automatically a member of the Board and the Minister for Resources and Energy is able to appoint up to six additional Board members. Appointed members of the Board must have skills in either renewable energy technology, commercialisation, business investment or corporate governance.
ARENA's Chief Executive Officer is appointed by the Minister for Resources and Energy on the recommendation of the ARENA Board.
ARENA may also appoint a Chief Financial Officer and committees to assist it in its functions, where committee membership may include Board members.
Staff of RET have been made available to ARENA to provide its operational and administrative support.
For more information on ARENA, please contact ARENA using the details provided on the Contact ARENA webpage.