Australia to Fund Renewable Energy Program

The Australian government has issued its latest call for projects to receive funding under the Aus$55.6 million Renewable Energy Commercialisation Program.

PARKES, ACT, AU, 2001-04-05 <> The RECP was first announced in November 1997 as part of Australia’s response to the issue of climate change. It started as a five year, $29 million competitive grants program to promote renewable energy initiatives with a strong potential for commercialization, but was expanded in May 1999 to total funding of $56 million. Applications for Round 6 (RECP6) are due by April 30, with successful projects expected to be announced by September. Special application forms are provided for wind projects with market predictions, multi-stage biomass projects involving electricity and heat, and ethanol distillation projects. Successful applicants will be required to execute an agreement with the Australian Greenhouse Office within four months of notification that their application is acceptable. Applicants are marked on whether they expect to publicly disseminate the results of their project to facilitate the development of the renewable energy in Australia, and whether the project is based on innovative renewable energy equipment, technologies, systems or processes. The project should use substantially Australian technology and/or materials, and make a substantial contribution to the development of a renewable energy industry in Australia. It must offer the prospect of significant abatement of greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term, and compete effectively with other energy sources. At least 50 percent of eligible project costs must come from the applicant, which must also demonstrate that it can provide 100 percent of essential costs needed for completion of the project but which fall outside RECP scope. “Renewable energy is a key element of Australia’s overall greenhouse response in the energy sector,” says the document. “The development and expansion of the renewable energy industry is a key strategy for capturing significant greenhouse gas emission reductions from the energy sector over the longer term, notwithstanding that other greenhouse gas abatement measures may in some cases be more cost-effective in the short term.” The Australian government is also promoting the production of new renewable electricity through its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET), which took effect on April 1. The measure includes staged annual new renewable energy generation targets that rise to 9,500 gigawatt-hours by 2010. Commercialization grants are available for innovative, replicable projects that, through the commercialisation of renewable energy technologies, demonstrate the potential to benefit Australia’s renewable energy industry, as well as reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Industry development grants are available for projects that will clearly contribute to the development of a sustainable, internationally competitive renewable energy industry in Australia. Projects could include mechanisms to address financial and institutional barriers to the uptake of renewable energy, assessment of renewable energy resources, development of standards for equipment and the renewable energy industry, training and accreditation of designers and installers, promotion of renewable energy use, promotion of the development of the renewable energy industry through both domestic and international collaboration; and education of consumers. Funding under commercialization projects is a maximum of 50 percent of eligible costs to a maximum of $1 million. Industry development projects can receive a higher proportion of funding. Renewable energy is defined as “Energy derived from the sustainable exploitation of solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, mini- or micro-hydro, river, wave, tidal or ocean resources” and specifically excludes coal seam methane and fossil fuels.

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