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Australia reserves US$45 million for geothermal in emerging renewables fund

Geothermal drilling rig at Jolokia 1 well, Australia (source: Geodynamics)
Alexander Richter 8 Aug 2011

Australia launches Emerging Renewables Fund, reallocating geothermal drilling grants not taken up and providing up to US$45 million under a more flexible funding mechanism to the industry.

Reported this morning from Australia, “The country’s federal government has finally launched its Emerging Renewables program to help support geothermal, ocean and solar technologies, and has expanded the funds by $26 million after effectively cancelling an equivalent amount of geothermal drilling grants. Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said the Emerging Renewables fund would now stand at $126 million, with up to one third of these funds reserved for the geothermal industry following the repatriation of funds.

A total of four grants allocated under the Geothermal Drilling Program were not taken up because the companies, small listed entities on the ASX, were not able to secure matching funding under the terms set down by the government. These companies are believed to be Greenearth Energy, Torrens Energy, Hot Rocks Ltd, and Green Rock. The new program will allow for a more flexible funding mechanism to be administered by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy, and there will be no deadline for the allocation or the spending of funds. Ferguson said the flexible approach responded to industry feedback.

The new mechanisms were recommended by ACRE chair Mary O’Kane in her Strategic Directions document delivered to the minister earlier this year, which sought to address some of the problems in the grants-based model favoured by the government, where many allocations have not been accessed. However, a spokesperson for the minister said funding for geothermal, ocean and solar projects will still be made on a “merits-based” grants approach, but will not necessarily be made on a 1:1 or 1:2 basis.

The Emerging Renewables fund was first announced in last year’s election campaign, with $40 million originally allocated, and was to have been allocated by the end of the 2010/11 financial year. It was delayed, but then boosted to $100 million in the May budget, receiving previously unallocated ACRE funds. ACRE will manage the program while the new Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which will manage $3.2 billion in funds, is established. This process is expected to take up to 12 months, but Ferguson said it was important to open the program now to “keep up momentum” in the industry.”

Source: ClimateSpectator