What is the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)?
Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is a commercially oriented agency. It was established on 1 July 2012 by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011.
ARENA investments span the commercialisation pathway from research and development to demonstration and near-commercial deployment projects.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) investments span the commercialisation pathway from research and development to demonstration and near-commercial deployment projects. It takes a technology-neutral approach in considering project applications and has a mandate to capture and share knowledge from its projects.
ARENA have two objectives:
- improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies
- increase the supply of renewable energy in Australia.
Research and Development Programme
Purpose: To support world-class research and development in priority renewable energy technologies.
Availability: Applications are accepted only during competitive rounds.
Advancing Renewables Programme
Purpose: To support activities that reduce the cost or increase the value delivered of renewable energy, advance renewable energy technologies towards commercial readiness, reduce or remove barriers to uptake, or increase relevant skills, capacity and knowledge.
Availability: Open to applications for all activities identified in the ARENA Investment Plan, other than those designated as competitive. Applications for the competitive activities are only accepted during competitive rounds.
Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund Programme
Purpose: To foster skills and management capability, and provide funding confidence to renewable energy projects to strengthen their chance of success.
Availability: The REVC Fund supports the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund. Applicants should contact Southern Cross Venture Partners directly to discuss venture capital opportunities.
Clean Energy Innovation Fund
Purpose: To support the growth of innovative clean energy technologies and businesses which are critical to Australia’s clean energy transformation.
Availability: The Fund targets technologies and businesses that have passed beyond the research and development stage and which can benefit from early stage seed or growth capital to help them progress to the next stage of their development.
Industrial Energy Transformation Studies
Purpose: To assist large energy users to undertake studies to identify opportunities to lower energy costs and reduce emissions.
Availability: The launch of Round 1A and Round 1B funding rounds, which was due to open on July 6, has been postponed pending the government issuing a new regulation that clarifies the technologies that ARENA is able to support in the Program. Program guidelines will be revised and reissued ahead of the opening date of the funding round.
ARENA provides funding assistance to renewable energy activities according to the General Funding Strategy and Investment Plan. It has approximately $2.5 billion in funding, which is legislated and extends until 2022.
ARENA funds activities that are expected to advance renewable energy technologies towards commercial readiness, improve business models or reduce overall industry costs.
Projects must develop industry-research partnerships with at least one eligible Australian research institution (research partner) and at least one industry partner and address one or more of the four key technology focus areas.
Projects must address one or more of the following four key technology focus areas:
- Balance of System (BoS) cost reduction (either on-grid or off-grid)
Development of new technologies or new applications of technologies and/or processes to reduce renewable energy system payback time and lower levelised cost of energy (LCOE).
Balance of System is the non-generation part of the plant including both hard costs (eg inverter, electronics, etc) and soft costs. For example, in a solar PV plant it does not include the PV modules.
- Integration and high penetration of renewables into networks (either on-grid, off-grid or mini-grids)
New technologies or applications of technologies, including associated financial and economic modelling, to address the challenges of integrating renewables and the grid, and increasing penetration levels.
- Integration of renewable energy for industrial process (excluding electricity generation)
New applications of technologies, including associated new business models, for renewables to provide process heat or cooling where gas or other fossil fuels are typically used.
- Integration of renewable energy into buildings or building materials
Development of innovative renewable technologies for building integrated applications (eg roofing, walls, windows, paint), or heating and/or cooling systems.
Technology developers, researchers and other organisations are invited to submit applications for funding under relevant ARENA programmes.
The Advancing Renewables Programme is open for new applications.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has reached $2 billion in funding since its establishment in 2012, with 10 new projects receiving just over $48 million. Nine of these projects were part of ARENA’s recent funding round for ultra low cost solar. ARENA has provided over $1 billion in funding for solar PV and solar thermal projects. The agency’s CEO, Darren Miller, said that ARENA’s funding supports the entire renewable energy innovation chain and aims to accelerate the affordability of new technologies while building investor confidence in renewable energy projects.
Two rounds currently open are Regional Microgrids and Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $1.5 million in funding to Spinifex Offshore Wind Farm to back its study the potential for a 1,000 MW offshore wind farm project off the coast of Portland, Victoria to power the local smelter.
Spinifex, a subsidiary of Alinta Energy, will conduct a wind resource assessment and accelerate early stage development activities leading to the wind farm’s construction.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project was the first to directly integrate variable renewable energy with an aluminium smelter, supporting the transition to low emissions metals.
ARENA has announced conditional approval for three commercial-scale hydrogen projects to share $103.3 million of funding. The three projects were selected from seven shortlisted applicants vying for ARENA’s $70 million renewable hydrogen deployment funding round.
- Engie’s project will receive up to $42.5 million to produce renewable hydrogen in a partnership with Yara Fertilisers at their existing ammonia facility in Karratha, Western Australia.
- ATCO will receive up to $28.7 million to produce hydrogen for gas blending at their Clean Energy Innovation Park in Warradarge, Western Australia.
- Australian Gas Networks (AGIG) will be provided with up to $32.1 million, also for a gas blending project, at their Murray Valley Hydrogen Park in Wodonga, Victoria.
ARENA has conditionally approved up to $47 million in funding for Genex to construct a pumped hydro energy storage system at the former Kidston Gold Mine in north Queensland.
The facility will store energy from a 50 MW solar farm that is already operating on the site as well as a planned 150 MW wind farm that will begin construction in 2022.
Genex’s $777 million project will essentially turn the existing mine pits into a giant battery, pumping water into an upper storage reservoir when energy prices are low, then releasing it through reversible turbines into the lower reservoir to generate power when demand for electricity is high.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $1.98 million in funding to Rheem Australia Pty Ltd (Rheem) to conduct its Active Hot Water Control project using hot water systems in South Australia.
Rheem’s trial will explore a number of approaches to demonstrate active control over approximately 2,400 residential hot water systems within South Australia. Residential customers with and without solar panels will be able to participate. The project is being launched under Rheem Australia’s renewables brand, Solahart.
ARENA invests $30 million to develop sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) in Australia, creating regional jobs and reducing aviation emissions. A homegrown SAF industry could generate 7,400 jobs by 2030. Limited SAF production and costs hinder the global net-zero target. ARENA’s 2021 Bioenergy Roadmap shows a local bioenergy industry contributing $10 billion to Australia’s GDP by 2030. Grants support engineering studies and pilot programs across the supply chain, from feedstock to fuel production.
Australia’s strong agriculture sector positions it as a global leader in scaling renewable fuel production. This reduces global aviation emissions and decreases reliance on imports. Minister Catherine King highlights Australia’s vast landmass and the importance of aviation for freight and passenger transport. Developing a SAF industry helps meet local needs and turns Australia into a sustainable fuels powerhouse.
The government closely monitors ARENA’s projects, recognizing their potential to impact regional Australia. Fostering sustainable aviation fuel growth facilitates a transition to a more sustainable and responsible domestic aviation sector.
ARENA will open applications for grants by mid-July.
In April 2023, ARENA took a major step forward in advancing Australia’s renewable energy goals by launching a significant funding round. An impressive $25 million was allocated to support 16 hydrogen research and development (R&D) projects. These projects were carefully designed to address three vital stages of the hydrogen supply chain: renewable hydrogen sources, methods for exporting or converting hydrogen into an exportable carrier, and exploring the practical applications of hydrogen.
The success of this funding round highlights ARENA’s steadfast commitment to fast-tracking Australia’s transition to renewable energy. Through active support of hydrogen R&D, ARENA plays a crucial role in driving innovation, unleashing the potential of large-scale renewable hydrogen, and forging a path towards a sustainable and cleaner energy future.
Securing funding for hydrogen R&D marks a significant milestone in Australia’s renewable energy journey, and ARENA stands at the forefront of this progress. With ongoing support for projects covering essential aspects of the hydrogen supply chain, ARENA continues to champion the growth and implementation of large-scale renewable hydrogen technologies. Their dedication is propelling Australia towards a greener and more sustainable future.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded $41.5 million in funding across 13 research projects to support research and development (R&D) and commercialisation activities that aim to significantly reduce the cost of solar.
Funding for ultra-low-cost solar R&D will build on ARENA’s previous investment into solar PV and is supporting projects that align with ARENA’s ‘Solar 30 30 30’ target of 30 per cent module efficiency and 30 cents per installed watt at utility scale by 2030.
The funding has been awarded to researchers from three Australian universities: The University of New South Wales (UNSW), The Australian National University (ANU) and The University of Sydney (USYD).
Australia’s potential to become a renewable energy exporter is taking a big step forward via its largest renewable hydrogen plant so far, to be built in the Pilbara.
ARENA has conditionally approved a grant of $47.5 million in funding to build a 10 MW electrolyser and 18 MW of solar PV in Karratha, WA. The $87 million project led by global energy company ENGIE will use renewable electricity to produce hydrogen and supply it to the adjacent Yara Pilbara Fertiliser facility.
Yara will be Australia’s largest electrolyser, capable of producing up to 640 tonnes of renewable hydrogen each year. This first-of-its-kind project will produce green hydrogen via electrolysis from renewable energy. The project is expected to start construction in October 2022 and be completed by 2024.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $318,000 in funding to demonstrate a full-scale solar PV and ground-source heat pump system. The project will be for a commercial broiler facility in Yanderra, New South Wales. Annual energy bills for chicken farms amount to around $80 to $100 million across Australia.
The hybrid system will see the installation of a 100-200 kW thermal ground source heat pump system to replace LPG as a fuel for heating and cooling a single shed for housing chickens. The poultry broiler industry utilises sheds that require both heating when chicks are young, and cooling as the chicks grow up.
Ground Source Systems estimates that installing heat pumps powered by onsite solar PV has the potential to reduce total emissions by around 1 million tonnes per year and provide even better conditions for the chickens housed in the shed.
Local researchers have unlocked a way to produce low cost hydrogen from renewable electricity, which is now on the road to commercialisation.
Hydrogen technology developer Hysata says its breakthrough puts within reach the cost of producing hydrogen at a cost competitive with gas – $2 per kilogram. Hard-to-abate sectors including steel manufacturing, heavy transport and chemical production are predicted to be major customers.
Hydrogen is emerging as a key opportunity towards global net-zero targets because of its versatility. It can be used to produce electricity, displace natural gas and repower transport. However, low conversion efficiency and high costs have previously left this production method unable to compete with fossil fuel-derived alternative.
The Australian Energy Market Commission, the rule maker for Australia’s electricity market, has proposed changes they say will help to integrate more rooftop solar into the grid and address the emerging “traffic jam” caused by rooftop solar uptake in certain areas.
In March, the AEMC released its draft determination that would also change the way distribution networks can recover costs associated with hosting solar and offer new incentives for solar homes to shift their exports outside of peak times.
The proposal would allow networks to implement “two-way” pricing, offering payments to solar households for sending energy to the grid when it is needed, but also potentially charge to export at congested times.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $341,990 in funding to startup Diffuse Energy, which will support installation of micro wind turbines at ten off-grid telecommunications towers to demonstrate the company’s technology.
Diffuse was founded by University of Newcastle engineering researchers in 2018. One of its potential markets is remote telecommunications centres. These are heavily reliant on diesel generation, which creates exposure to natural disasters and risks lost communications at times when they’re most needed.
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