The Australian budget for 2010-11 has committed the Government to invest $652 million over four years in a new Renewable Energy Future Fund, which will form part of the Government’s expanded $5.1 billion Clean Energy Initiative which includes the previously announced $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program and the $2 billion Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships program.

Two new projects will be funded under the Renewable Energy Development program:

  • $32 million for CS Energy to build a 23MW solar boost to coal-fired turbines at Kogan Creek, near Chinchilla in western Queensland; and
  • $60 million for N.P. Power Pty Ltd to build a 40MW concentrated solar thermal demonstration plant at Whyalla, South Australia, using “Big Dish” technology.

Five new solar reasearch and development projects will be funded through the Australian Solar Institute:

  • $5.0 million for a project run by the University of New South Wales to overcome the performance limitations of commercial solar cells;
  • $2.25 million for a project run by BT Imaging Pty Ltd to improve the performance of photovoltaic manufacturing;
  • $4.95 million for an Australian National University led applied research project in collaboration with industry to help develop the next generation of solar cells;
  • $2.25 million for a project run by Sapphicon Semiconductor Pty Ltd to develop a high-efficiency, integrated solar module on a transparent substrate; and
  • $4.0 million for a project run by CSIRO and the Australian National University to develop advanced solar thermal energy storage technologies.

A new Resource Exploration Rebate of company tax will be available for geothermal energy exploration. Large areas of Australia are being explored for geothermal energy.

Geothermal Exploration
Geothermal Exploration

The Government also plans to impose a new 40% tax (replacing some State fees which will be refunded) on “super profits” by mining companies. Since coal and gas miners are the most “super profitable” Australian miners, this can be seen as largely a form of carbon tax.