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A Sustainable Energy Fund with an annual budget of A$45 million is being set up in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) under legislation before the state's parliament. The main aim of the fund will be to commercialise clean energy technologies. The bill was expected to pass last month and, according to the energy ministry's Michael Egan, the NSW government will "move quickly in 1996" to establish the fund.

Under the legislation the fund would operate as "the primary mechanism for setting and delivering targets for the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions from the state's electricity supply industry." Egan says the fund would "be about commercialisation" of clean energy technologies rather than pure research. It will include programmes to provide information, education and training as well as grants to increase market share of clean power technologies through "market transformation" activities. The four portfolio categories recommended to the government include energy efficiency, fuel substitution, cogeneration and renewable energy. A corporate plan every three years will "establish definite targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions" and detail measures to achieve these. The first plan is due by April 1. The state government is proposing that funds come from the state budget on a rolling three-year basis with the amount of cash increased over a five year period to A$45 a year -- about 1% of NSW's electricity industry revenues. But environmental groups and some members of parliament are not happy with this arrangement, preferring a levy on revenue -- a proposal the government is not prepared to accept, according to Egan. However, the government does not have a majority in one of the state's two houses of parliament.

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