Australia Reverses Ban on Wind Farm Investment Under New Leader

Wind farms are Australia’s second-biggest clean energy source after hydropower. (AFP Photo/Getty Images/Spencer Platt)

By : Morag MacKinnon | on 9:38 PM December 13, 2015
Category : International, Asia-Pacific

Perth. Australia has reversed a decision banning its clean energy fund from investing in wind power projects, in the first sign that energy policy will be more favorable toward renewable under new leader Malcolm Turnbull.

A new mandate to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) was issued this month and in a copy seen by Reuters on Sunday it showed that the fund would be allowed to invest in wind projects as long as they incorporate “emerging and innovative” methods.

The shift is the latest from the government of Prime Minister Turnbull, which has also announced a boost to funding innovation startups and dropped a plan to deregulate university funding since the change in leadership three months ago.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott was a vocal critic of wind farms, once describing them as ugly and noisy.

Under his leadership, a Renewable Energy Target was cut by a fifth this year and the A$10 billion ($7.2 billion) CEFC was ordered in June to stop investing in wind farms, the country’s second-biggest clean energy source after hydropower.

Turnbull replaced Abbott as leader the Liberal-National coalition government in September.

Turnbull lost the leadership of the Liberal party six years ago over his support for a carbon pollution reduction scheme proposed by the then Labor government.

Although Abbott’s anti-wind farm decree was never ratified by parliament, it helped stall domestic and international investment in the renewable energy sector.

The new mandate encourages the CEFC to “focus on offshore wind technologies.”

“This recognizes that, in many circumstances, the financing requirements for mature and established clean energy technologies such as onshore wind technologies may be met from commercial financing sources,” it said.

The CEFC last week announced A$67 million in financing for what will be Australia’s largest wind farm, eventually powering 120,000 homes.

Debt support from funds such as the CEFC and Export Development Canada played an important part in the overall $200 million debt financing package, the company said in a statement.

The CEFC was established by the former Labor government in 2012 to mobilize investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies.

Australia is the developed world’s highest per capita carbon emitter, and a major producer and exporter of coal.


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