Green Energy: ARENA changes knocked back by Senate, FMG moves ahead on Tassie hydrogen
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• Addition of “low emissions tech” to ARENA remit knocked back in Senate
• FMG secures site for Bell Bay green hydrogen plant in Tassie
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has pumped billions of Government funds into renewable projects since it was established in 2011.
So far it looks to be doing its job in helping the fledgling renewables sector get on its feet.
Recent reporting by ARENA and the AEMO suggests wind and solar are now the cheapest forms of new build power, something that has arguably created a role for ARENA to pivot into new forms of renewable investments.
That may or may not include the kind envisioned by Energy Minister Angus Taylor, whose bid to use regulations to enable ARENA to fund “low emissions technologies” has been knocked back by Labor, Greens and cross-benchers in the Senate.
Opposition politicians accused Taylor of using the changes as a sort of Trojan Horse for funding set aside for renewables to be doled out to coal and gas companies.
It came after a parliamentary committee led by Taylor’s own colleague Concetta Fierravanti-Wells queried whether the changes could be legally made by regulation and may have needed new legislation to be enacted, although Taylor’s rep Zed Seselja had told an Estimates hearing previously the Government had “strong legal advice” it could make the change without amending the act.
Taylor went on the offensive on Twitter afterwards:
Labor have shown their true colours – opposing investment in new clean technologies which will create jobs and economic opportunities. @AustralianLabor doesn't believe in technology to reduce emissions, only taxes, which means Australians will pay more #auspol
— Angus Taylor MP (@AngusTaylorMP) June 22, 2021
ARENA had toed the line when the changes were first revealed.
“This allows ARENA to continue to be the Agency that works at the forefront of innovation,” CEO Darren Miller said at the time. “As technologies such as solar and wind mature, we must be able to move forward and support the next generation of clean energy technologies.”
It has a guarantee of $1.43 billion of baseline funding over the next 10 years, much of which is likely to go into green or – in the Morrison Government’s terms – “clean hydrogen” as that industry develops.
The Apple Isle is a global leader in renewable energy, with its massive hydropower endowment enabling it to supply virtually all of its domestic energy needs with renewable power.
That makes it a logical location to rev the engines on Twiggy Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group’s (ASX: FMG) bold green hydrogen masterplan.
The company’s new green energy arm Fortescue Future Industries has secured an option with TasPorts over land at the Port of Bell Bay to operate a 250MW green hydrogen plant after announcing an MoU with Japan’s IHI Corporation to assess the establishment of a link to the Asian economic powerhouse for its proposed green ammonia exports.
While the energy fuel technology is still in its infancy, Forrest was well-known for moving first and sorting out the kinks later in his iron ore empire, and plans to make an investment decision this year.
Tasmania has emerged as a destination for major energy companies looking to launch green hydrogen initiatives, with Origin Energy and Woodside also investigating projects in Bell Bay.