Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE)
The Australian Government established the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy (ACRE) in 2010 as a key component of its $5 billion Clean Energy Initiative to promote the development, commercialisation and deployment of renewable energy and enabling technologies and to improve their competitiveness in Australia.
ACRE Strategic Directions
The ACRE Board has released Strategic Directions, which outlines how it proposes to achieve ACRE’s objective and discusses the key initiatives that ACRE will undertake. It also articulates principles and technology priorities that will guide ACRE’s funding support decisions as well as approaches that will be incorporated into the management of ACRE’s programs and other activities.
Strategic Directions recommends the creation of an expanded Emerging Renewables program, consisting of the $40 million Emerging Renewables 2010 election commitment, combined with ACRE’s other unallocated funds. This could potentially extend the funding envelope for Emerging Renewables to more than $100 million, of which at least $40 million would be available for developing technologies such as ocean and geothermal.
ACRE Board Vision
National energy markets delivering competitively priced renewable energy sourced from a diverse range of technologies.
What is ACRE?
ACRE has three components:an independent, statutory advisory board established by the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy Act 2010 – the ACRE Board;
- a statutory Chief Executive Officer who is an ex-officio member of the ACRE Board; and
- staff from the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.
ACRE aims to provide a one-stop-shop for renewable energy technology companies and developers. The approaches outlined in the Strategic Directions that the ACRE Board will incorporate into its work include:
- supporting both project and capacity building measures, including information dissemination;
- providing for ongoing interaction with companies that are developing promising technologies;
- targeting support at technologies that offer the most potential benefit while promoting a diversity of technologies to the extent possible;
- increasing collaboration and leveraging funds from other government agencies and the private sector; and reviewing renewable energy trends and broader policy settings.
ACRE’s support will target technologies along the innovation chain.
ACRE will offer a range of funding support mechanisms, including grants and venture capital equity.
ACRE’s technology priorities
While ACRE is open to supporting any compelling technologies, it will favour projects and measures
consistent with the priorities as outlined in the Strategic Directions for each sector:
- Solar – compelling enabling technologies, including storage, grid connection technologies, and hybrid systems.
- Geothermal – facilitate national coordination; facilitate resource discovery and proving; and/or support pilot demonstration projects to enable learning by doing and information gathering and dissemination.
- Wind – enabling technologies that may significantly improve grid connection issues, or measures to broaden understanding of wind development issues.
- Ocean – monitoring developments internationally and assisting the development of nationally consistent regulatory regimes around state and commonwealth ocean jurisdictions. ACRE may consider supporting selected pilot-scale ocean energy technology projects.
- Bioenergy – assessment of sustainable and economic pathways, R&D and pilot projects for secondgeneration biofuels projects, and biopower and bioheat projects.
- Hybrid – projects that facilitate early commercial deployment of renewable energy technologies.
- Enabling technologies – selected technology concepts with breakthrough potential for Australian conditions.
ACRE draws together more than $690 million in Australian Government funding for renewable energy and currently manages a number of programs that support renewable energy technologies. The key new initiatives outlined in the Strategic Directions that ACRE will deliver include:
- Establishing an Emerging Renewables Program – The program will provide at least $40 million for emerging technologies that can support the production of large-scale base load power, such as geothermal and wave. The program will be designed to incorporate many of the funding approaches outlined in the Strategic Directions
- Establishing a Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund – The Fund will make critical early-stage equity investments that leverage private funds to help commercialise emerging renewable technologies
- Establishing an Australian Biofuels Research Institute – The institute will focus on research into second-generation biofuels and addressing food security issues
- Conducting regional and remote renewable energy studies – These studies will identify opportunities for greater deployment of renewable energy in regional and remote areas, including the Midwest and Pilbara regions in Western Australia, and along the proposed Townsville-Mt Isa transmission line.
ACRE will also continue to manage the existing programs it delivers, which include:
- Renewable Energy Demonstration Program
- ACRE Solar Projects
- Second Generation Biofuels Research and Development Program
- Geothermal Drilling Program
- Wind Energy Forecasting Capability Program
- Renewable Energy Equity Fund
- Advanced Electricity Storage Technologies Program
ACRE will conduct its activities in a manner consistent with Strategic Directions. The Government will issue its response to the recommendations outlined in Strategic Directions in the coming months.