Jane Sargison, Betsy Donaghey, Judith Smith and Mark Twidell have been appointed as inaugural board members of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and Ivor Frischknecht has been named ARENA’s first chief executive officer.
The appointments were announced by Minster for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson. ARENA, which commences in July 2012, will be an independent statutory agency that will administer a range of initiatives that were previously administered through a range of bodies, including the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy and the Australian Solar Institute. It will consolidate AU$3.2bn in funding for renewable energy innovation.
Sargison was Engineers Australia’s National Professional Engineer of the Year in 2011 and has a strong background in developing renewable energy technologies. Smith is head of private equity at Industry Funds management. Donaghey has a background in strategic planning, general management and business analysis with senior roles at Woodside Petroleum and BHP Billiton. Twidell is currently executive director of the Australian Solar Institute. The board members join Greg Bourne, ARENA chair, Brian Spalding and Drew Clarke, who were appointed in May.
Meanwhile, Frischknecht, whose appointment comes into effect in August, is currently investment director at Starfish Ventures and previously held a range of senior roles in technology startups, including renewable energy companies.
“The board appointments ensure ARENA has a good mix of skills across renewable energy technology, commercialisation, investment and corporate governance,” Minister Ferguson said. “The board will oversee ARENA’s delivery of project funding; develop skills in the renewable energy sector, and promote information sharing and collaboration with state and territory governments and Australian and international institutions.”
The ARENA board will next release an interim general funding strategy, which will be formalised in the second half of the year after public consultation. This “will allow the Board to maintain momentum in the renewable energy sector, whilst continuing to administer existing ACRE programs and projects; consider funding shortlisted for Solar Flagships; progress the Emerging Renewables Program; and select eligible applicants under the Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness program,” according to the Ministry for Resources and Energy.