New federal regulations will expand the role of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), empowering it to invest in the research, development and demonstration of energy efficiency and electrification technologies.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency Amendment (Powering Australia) Regulations 2022 will undo previous legislation which allowed negative emission technologies (such as unproven carbon capture and storage technologies) to be funded through the agency.  .

Under the revisions, ARENA will no longer support these technologies and instead focus on developing new electrification technologies including electric vehicle chargers, heat pumps and mining applications.

ARENA Chief Executive Officer, Darren Miller, said the decision will expand the agency’s mandate to support a broader reduction of emissions.

“This expansion of our mandate will allow ARENA to support emissions reduction across a broader range of sectors and emerging technologies,“ ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.

“ARENA will also continue to support renewable energy projects, where we are working on innovation in ultra low cost solar, large scale storage, demand flexibility, hydrogen and low emission metals.”

The Energy Electrification Council (EEC) praised the Federal Government for its revision, EEC CEO, Luke Menzel, said the changes would facilitate reduced costs for stakeholders.

“Energy efficiency and electrification bring the smart flexibility needed in a 21st century energy system and lets Australian households and businesses unlock Australia’s clean energy advantage,” Mr Menzel said.

“Harnessing efficient electric technologies is a key strategy to reduce energy use and bills, which is front of mind for households and businesses during the energy crisis.”

However, Mr Menzel noted that ARENA’s additional functions will require additional resourcing to adequately perform.

“We must ensure that ARENA can give proper attention to its new functions, and we urge the Government to consider extra funding for ARENA in the upcoming Budget.

“The role of electrification and energy efficiency is particularly important for business and industry, as high gas prices are creating havoc amongst Australia’s manufacturing sector.

“New Zealand has committed NZD$1 billion to industrial decarbonisation. The Australian Government will also need to make investments to harness energy efficiency and electrification to build on Australia’s competitive advantages in renewable energy, powering a new wave of clean manufacturing in this country.”

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