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Rudd’s $500 million for green-tech businesses

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A $500 million scheme to promote R&D and commercialisation of emerging renewable energy technologies looks set to form the centrepiece of Labor’s election campaign launch in Brisbane today.

Although Labor has yet to reveal details of the scheme, leader Kevin Rudd appears set to ramp up his pitch for the green vote by providing $500 million in grants for businesses in the renewable energy sector on top of the 20% renewable energy target announced earlier in the campaign.

Offering $500 million in grants combined with the 20% renewable energy target already announced would see Labor trump the Coalition’s $75 million grant program and 15% renewable energy commitment according to Dominique La Fontaine, the chief executive of renewable energy industry body the Clean Energy Council.

“$500 million is a significant increase on the Liberal promise, the numbers speak for the themselves. The larger renewable energy target is also significant, comparing those policies you’d say Labor is better for the renewable energy industry,” La Fontaine says.

The need for improved policy settings for Australia’s renewable energy sector is highlighted by Ernst & Young’s latest Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Indices.

According to the Indices, which do not take into account the promises made by either party during the election campaign, Australia ranks 14th out of 25 countries in terms of attracting investment in renewable energy.

La Fontaine says Australia’s renewable energy policy framework lags behind that of many comparable countries.

“Australia should be a clean energy super power: we’ve got the resources, land availability and the know-how, we just need the policy settings to create the right investment climate. Renewable energy targets, emissions trading schemes all need to occur and I have no doubt post election there will be renewed interest in investing in the sector here,” she says.

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