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Malcolm Turnbull to spur renewable energy investment


Source: The Australian, 23 March 2016

Malcolm Turnbull has diverted from his predecessor over renewable energy programs.

Malcolm Turnbull will set up a $1 billion fund to spur investment in renewable energy in a move that offers his first major policy on climate change since becoming Prime Minister, answering Labor taunts about his personal conviction on global warming.

The funding will be spread over a decade and will draw on part of the borrowings meant to support the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a $10bn scheme that Tony Abbott vowed to scrap but which will be retained.

The new statement will make it clear that a bill to dismantle the CEFC, which has been rejected twice and is a trigger for a double-dissolution election, will be abandoned so that the finance corporation will remain.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt, who will announce the new policy with Mr Turnbull today, has overhauled the CEFC mandate to require a higher return on investment equivalent to 4 to 5 per cent above the bond rate.

The fund to be announced today will have an easier mandate — just 1 per cent above the bond rate — so that the funds can be poured into riskier projects, including energy storage.

Mr Turnbull has described energy storage — such as battery technology — as a crucial aspect of the renewable energy debate because it could help commercialise solar, wind and other energy sources that are less reliable than hydro or coal-fired electricity.