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Australia To Fund Wind Power Again; Turnbull Lifts Abbot's Ban

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December 15
2:54 AM 2015

First introduced by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the ban on government investment on wind power was lifted as part of Malcolm Turnbull's innovation agenda. The Clean Energy Finance Corporation is now able, due to Environmental Minister Greg Hunt's new orders, to spend the $10 billion on new wind power projects.

The December 3 mandate has canceled Abbot's earlier July announcement. Hunt was originally excluded from Abbot's decision but was allowed control of the Corporation when Turnbull announced his new ministry.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the new orders will now allow the fund to invest in any wind projects that involve "emerging and innovative" technology with an emphasis on offshore wind technologies since onshore technologies may be supplied from commercial sources. The money is expected to improve the wind industry and improve confidence in the renewable sector in general.

Bloomberg spoke to Caitlin Keage, spokeswoman for the Prime Minister who described the intentions behind the new mandate and where the Corporation will be directing its funding.

"The new CEFC investment mandate reflects the Turnbull government's strong support for renewables and innovation. The mandate puts the CEFC's focus on new and emerging renewable technologies, rather than supporting well-established technologies that are financially viable without government support."

The new mandate is already in effect. The Corporation has previously announced investing $67 million into what will be Australia's third largest wind farm in Ararat, Victoria, which is expected to generate enough electricity for 120,000 homes each year.

Lisa Neville, Victoria's Environmental Minister, told ABC how the announcement would benefit the environmental industry.

"It's been a very rocky 18 months for the industry and investment which has caused a lot of losses of jobs across Australia so this is a positive step forward"

Met with public criticism, Abbot's July announcement said that wind farms were ugly and noisy and wanted the Corporation to invest in new technologies but not existing wind farms. Former treasurer Joe Hockey, following the announcement, had stopped the funding of wind power projects, and small solar project.

Turnbull has been making changes to his predecessor's policies since taking office. Among the changes, Turnbull has stopped higher education deregulation, canceled the restoration of knighthoods and dames honors, and intends to reform the nation's tax system.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has wind accounting for almost a quarter of its portfolio with a third of its projects relating to the wind sector. It seeks to accelerate investments that relate to renewable energy.

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