Funding cuts cast a pall over ARENA and Million Solar Roofs Programme  

Climate Spectator has published figures spelling trouble for either the Australian Renewable Energy Agency or the One Million Solar Roofs Programme, with a funding shortfall leaving one or the other destitute.

Million Solar Homes

Leading up to the 2013 Federal election, the Coalition made numerous assurances that it supported ARENA while keeping mum regarding specific budgetary allowances. Pre-election costings showed that while ARENA funding would be cut by an Abbott government, it had craftily reassigned funding for the One Million Solar Roofs Programme to the renewable agency’s budget.

Pledging a $500 rebate for every household (capped at 100,000 per year) that installs solar panels over the next ten years, the equation becomes fairly simple. One Million Solar Roofs needs at least $50 million per year to provide rebates for all solar customers, representing $150 million over three years.

Far from increasing ARENA’s operating budget, it has had funding more than halved leaving only $341.3 million for the next three years. Of this amount, 181 projects already have committed funding. When the original round of funding cuts fell in November 2013 a spokesperson claimed that the body was left with $200 million of available funds – since then that amount has been cut by a further $40 million.

If you’ve been paying attention you will have noticed things are starting to get grim. $160 million, minus funding for the Million Solar Roofs Programme ($150 million) leaves only $10 million. Another way to look at it would be $3.3 million per year.

Recent statements in the press regarding the vitality of ARENA are either misinformed or misleading, including optimistic comments at the recent launch of the ARENA supported solar farm in Nyngan. The public may well end up feeling the same way – with the Abbott government needing to downgrade the One Million Roofs promise, or admit that it has left ARENA without funding for any future projects and perhaps without any future at all.