A reshuffle of the board of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has seen the addition of six of the nation’s most prominent clean energy and climate professionals, although their role is unclear given the changes to the agency announced by the Turnbull government last month.
ARENA will lose $1.3 billion in unallocated funds under the proposals announced last month, although this is yet to pass through parliament.
Instead, the Turnbull government wants ARENA to work with the Clean Energy Finance as co-manager of a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund, using $1 billion of CEFC money to make equity and finance investments, rather than the grants deployed by ARENA.
However, while ARENA will work on the innovation fund program, helping identify projects, the final decision on investment will be made by the CEFC board, under the proposals made by environment minister Greg Hunt and PM Malcolm Turnbull.
In the interim though, the board will likely rule on key funding allocations, such as the $100 million to be made available in grants to up to 10 large-scale solar projects. They could be the last significant ARENA funding allocations in its current structure, depending on the passage of legislation.
The new ARENA board, appointed two months after the terms of the previous directors expired, was only confirmed this week after being approved by Cabinet on Tuesday.
The board will be headed by Baker & McKenzie lawyer and head of its climate change practice Martijn Wilder, who is also a director of the CEFC, chair of the NSW Climate Change Council, a director and governor of WWF Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and a director of the Climate Council.
Other members include sustainability expert Maria Atkinson, geothermal expert Susan Jeanes, energy efficiency expert Jonathan Jutsen, former CEFC deputy COO Meg McDonald, private equity specialist Katherine Woodthorpe, and Gordon de Brouwer, the secretary of the department of the environment.
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