Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed the Turnbull government has lifted a ban on investing in wind power.
Fairfax Media said the government has issued the Clean Energy Finance Corporation with new orders that negate former prime minister Tony Abbott’s June decree — Malcolm Turnbull’s first major break from the former regime’s environment policy.
“The Government has also directed the Corporation to include, as part of its investment activities in clean energy technologies, a focus on offshore wind technologies,” the directive issued to the CEFC said.
“This recognises that, in many circumstances, the financing requirements for mature and established clean energy technologies such as onshore wind technologies may be met from commercial financing sources.”
“There is a new investment mandate,” a spokesman for Mr Hunt confirmed to AAP.
The move is expected to give the multi-billion dollar wind industry a boost and inject renewed confidence into the renewable sector.
The Australian Conservation Foundation is encouraged by the news.
“Wind and solar are our future. I think our government led by this prime minister can take the right action for our future,” ACF’s Kelly O’Shanassy told ABC television.
According to ABC, under the new mandate, signed by Mr Hunt and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on December 3, the $10 billion fund will be allowed to invest in wind projects, as long as they incorporate “emerging and innovative” methods.
In July, former treasurer Joe Hockey ordered the CEFC to stop funding wind power projects, as well as small-scale solar projects, a move condemned by the industry, as well as environmental groups and the federal opposition.
Five months later, the CEFC quietly announced $67 million in financing for Australia’s third largest wind farm at Ararat in Western Victoria. It follows consultations with new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who has promised more certainty for the renewable energy sector.
Acting Greens leader Larissa Waters said it was a small but welcome step.
“Tony Abbott was prepared to take the axe to renewable energy and was going to restrict investment,” she said.
“We know wind is going to be part of the solution and we’ve got some fantastic wind deposits here in Australia.”