Grants and incentives
National and state-based grants and support services are available to help businesses working in Australia’s renewable energy industry.
National schemes exist to support the commercial production of biofuels and bioenergy projects. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provides several long-term financial assistance packages for renewable energy technology innovation. The amount of ARENA funding allocated to the program is $215 million. There is no minimum or maximum funding available per project, other than the available program funds. The Emerging Renewables Program is an ARENA initiative. It funds activities to support the development, demonstration and early stage deployment of renewable energy technologies with the potential to lower the cost, and thereby increase the supply, of renewable energy in Australia. Funding for bioenergy projects includes:
- research and development
- advanced biofuel production pilot projects
- bio-based electricity generation.
- be consistent with the terms of ARENA’s General Funding Strategy and ARENA’s functions
- be in the demonstration, commercialisation or deployment phases of a renewable energy technology
- fall outside the scope of, or is/would be not well suited to, ARENA’s existing suite of initiatives and programs.
- demonstrate a portfolio of renewable energy solutions in Australian off-grid and fringe-of-grid areas
- ensure knowledge is produced and disseminated
- remove roadblocks.
- be located off-grid and fringe-of-grid
- demonstrate and use of one or more renewable energy solutions or enabling technologies (or both), including hybrid or integrated systems
- affirm a user of the renewable energy generated under the project
- produce additional or new generation capacity equal to or greater than 1 MWe of renewable energy or an equivalent measure of bioenergy or heat energy
- involve capital expenditure and associated implementation activities relating to the demonstration and use of the renewable energy or enabling technologies (or both)
- lead to a final investment decision within a timeframe that would allow the project to be commissioned prior to 30 June 2018. Commercialisation Australia is a competitive, merit-based assistance program offering funding and resources up to $2 million to accelerate the business building process for Australian companies, entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors looking to commercialise innovative intellectual property. The program is an initiative of the Australian Government. The Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund makes selected investments in Australian renewable energy companies, providing capital and assisting with the management skills they need to commercialise their technologies and succeed in domestic and overseas markets. The $200 million fund is jointly funded by ARENA and Softbank China Venture Capital, a leading venture capital firm in Asia. RIRDC’s Bioenergy, Bioproducts and Energy program aims to meet Australia’s research and development needs for the development of sustainable and profitable bioenergy and bioproducts industries and to develop an energy cross-sectoral R&D plan. RIRDC invests in research and development that helps rural industries to be productive, profitable and sustainable. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) operates like a traditional financier, working with co-financiers and project proponents to seek ways to secure financing solutions for the clean energy sector. Projects span renewable energy, low-emissions technologies and energy efficiency. Using a full range of financial instruments, the CEFC co-finances and invests, directly and indirectly, in clean energy projects and technologies. The CEFC focuses on projects and technologies at the later stages of development which have a positive expected rate of return and have the capacity to service and repay capital. They can also look at earlier stage projects which have significant support and a risk profile appropriate for CEFC. The CEFC may provide concessional finance but does not make grants. Note that the CEFC is being wound up by the current federal government. The CEFC is also providing $120 million through the National Australia Bank to help Australian businesses to cut their energy and operating costs, and help business upgrade industrial and agricultural equipment and increase their uptake of bioenergy and solar. The program focuses on agribusiness and regional Australia. Investments in biogas, bio-digesters and micro turbines, and fuel switching equipment and processes, will be eligible for finance. There is a fact sheet [PDF 308 KB] available and more information from the National Australia Bank online. With the support of the CEFC, the National Australia Bank is offering Equipment Finance customers a 0.7% p.a. discount on funding for qualifying energy efficient assets. The R&D Tax Incentive is an entitlement program that helps businesses, of all sizes, offset some of the costs of doing R&D. It provides more generous support for businesses, especially small- and medium-sized firms, than the R&D Tax Concession which it replaced. The two core components are:
- a 45% cent refundable tax offset (equivalent to a 150% deduction) to eligible entities with an aggregated turnover of less than $20 million a year
- a non-refundable 40% tax offset (equivalent to 133% deduction) to all other eligible entities.