Sydney, Australia [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] An AUD$100 (USD$ 76) million fund to support cutting-edge renewable energy technology development has been officially launched by Australia’s Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane.Macfarlane launched the fund while visiting the largest producer of solar panels in the southern hemisphere, BP Solar, which employ more than 300 Australians and has a significant export market into East Asia and the Pacific. The Renewable Energy Development Initiative (REDI) will provide matching competitive grants worth between $50,000 and $5 million to Australian businesses developing renewable energy projects with significant greenhouse gas abatement potential. Macfarlane said the initiative, which is administered jointly by the Department of Industry Tourism and Resources and the Department of the Environment and Heritage, delivered on a key commitment set out in the 2004 Energy White Paper. “Renewable energy technology plays an important role in our energy mix and is a key element of Australia’s overall greenhouse response in the energy sector,” Macfarlane said. “REDI will support renewable energy projects from early stage R&D right through to commercialization – helping to develop an internationally competitive renewable energy industry in Australia.” Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, said Australia was acutely aware of the environmental benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and industry was responding well to the greenhouse challenge. “The Government’s investment in renewable energy initiatives to date is expected to reduce emissions by around seven million tonnes each year,” Campbell said. “I’d like to think that in a few years a REDI-funded project will boost that figure even further.” The Australian Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) welcomed the news. BCSE Executive Director Ric Brazzale said the REDI scheme will provide significant assistance to a growing, cutting edge industry that in some cases is still at an early stage of its life cycle. “REDI will further assist the industry with commercialization and mass production, increase deployment into new markets, reduce costs and continue its outstanding growth,” Brazzale said. “The BCSE and the industry congratulate the Australian Government on the initiative and looks forward to continuing to work with the Government to grow the industry and meet the $4 billion sales target under the Renewable Energy Action Agenda. The closing date for first-round funding applications is Thursday, 25 August 2005.