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The Federal Government has appointed a new Chair of the Board to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), while the industry has issued calls to the government to extend funding for the agency beyond 2021.

Justin Punch has been appointed to the role of ARENA Chair. He holds experience in carbon offset investments, as well as business and finance having served as a Partner at Archer Capital.

As Chair of the Board, Mr Punch will provide ARENA with investment expertise on the Government’s Technology Investment Roadmap. 

The Roadmap aims to bring a strategic and system-wide view to future investments in low emissions technologies to strengthen Australia’s economy and support jobs. 

Mr Punch will support ARENA’s efforts to leverage co-investment from the private sector to deliver the technology priorities under the Roadmap.

Following the announcement of Mr Punch’s appointment, the Clean Energy Council released a statement calling for the funding and extension of ARENA beyond its 2021 expiry date.

Clean Energy Council Chief Executive, Kane Thornton, said, “ARENA is at the centre of Australia’s low-emissions technology agenda and is a critical institution to the delivery of the Technology Investment Roadmap.

“ARENA will be vital over the next decade and needs at least $2 billion to ensure it can continue its work in accelerating the clean energy transition. 

“The Agency must remain unencumbered by the interests of the fossil fuel industry and focus solely on the role of clean technologies.”

The Clean Energy Council said clean energy has delivered an enormous economic boost to Australia during the past few years as a result of unprecedented investment in large-scale wind, solar and storage as well as a record number of Australians investing in the installation of rooftop solar and household battery solutions.

“As Australia begins the process of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions like ARENA will help advance the technology required to boost our clean energy resources and our capacity to deliver cheaper power across Australia, bolster our manufacturing industry and create more jobs to keep our economy moving,” Mr Thornton said.

Mr Punch has been appointed to the role for two years, commencing on 18 July 2020. 

An announcement on the remaining Board members will be made shortly.

ARENA was established in July 2012 to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies in Australia.

The ARENA Board sets the investment strategies and priorities, oversees the running of the agency, and approves funding for projects up to $50 million.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor said, “I thank the departing Chair Mr Martijn Wilder AM who provided exemplary service on the Board and to ARENA since 2016.”

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