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Green bank lives on in $1.9b energy plan

Australia’s green bank will have its remit expanded to include carbon capture and storage, green steel and hydrogen.

The Morrison government is expanding the mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency as part of a $1.9 billion package to develop low-emission technology.

ARENA will be guaranteed baseline funding of $1.43 billion over the next decade and $193 million in grants for targeted programs.

The government believes wind and solar projects are commercially viable without the need for government subsidies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison expects the investment package for low-emission energy projects to create 35,000 jobs.

“These investments create jobs and they bring new technologies into play,” he said in a statement.

“This will not only cut emissions but deliver the reliable energy Australia needs while driving down prices for homes and businesses.”

A new Technology Co-Investment Fund will be set up with $95.4 million to help businesses in agriculture, manufacturing, industry and transport enhance productivity and adopt new technologies.

The package also includes money for a regional hydrogen export hub, microgrids and improved energy and emissions data.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor has pushed for technology to play a central role in reducing Australia’s emissions.

“The government recognises the strong growth in emerging energy technologies that will play a role in Australia’s energy mix into the future,” he said.

“We need to get the balance right and our investment to re-energise ARENA will deliver that.”

Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek is sceptical about the coalition’s latest energy policy.

“The problem with the government’s position is they come up with these thought bubbles periodically,” she told Sky News.

“They’re driven by internal politics in the National Party and Liberal Party instead of being driven by the science. We need cheaper, cleaner energy to support jobs in Australia.”

She said private sector investment in energy was being held back by policy uncertainty.

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