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Australia sets up USD-762m fund to support emerging clean energy tech

The Australian government unveiled today the creation of the AUD-1-billion (USD 762m/EUR 680m) Clean Energy Innovation Fund to back emerging technologies such as

large-scale solar with storage, smart grids, biofuels and offshore energy.

As part of the plan, the fund will make available AUD 100 million per year for 10 years, providing debt and equity for green projects. Its aim is to help emerging technologies go from demonstration to commercial deployment.

The money for the new fund will come from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) AUD-10-billion allocation. CEFC and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will jointly manage the fund.

“The Government will retain and reinvigorate the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency as part of our strong commitment to supporting jobs and innovation through investment in clean and renewable energy in Australia,” says today's press release.

CSP PROJECT

The Turnbull Government gave as an example of a project eligible for support from the Clean Energy Innovation Fund “a large scale solar facility with storage in Port Augusta”. In the summer of 2014 Alinta Energy (ASX:AEJ) said it plans to develop a 50-MW concentrated solar power (CSP) plant with storage there. Alinta operates 512 MW of coal-fired power plants, the Port Augusta Power Stations, in South Australia and they are nearing the end of their operational life.

PLAN FOR ARENA

The government said that ARENA will continue to manage its portfolio of grants, while its focus will be expanded to add energy efficiency and low emissions technology. Once the agency has concluded the announced AUD-100-million large-scale solar financing round it will move from a grant-based approach to predominantly a debt and equity basis under the Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

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