Ricky Muir says clean energy “very much interests” him as the Motoring Enthusiast Party senator launches a bid to save the renewable energy agency.

Ricky Muir has unexpectedly thrown his support behind the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party senator will try to amend the carbon tax repeal legislation that is before the Senate to stop $435 million being slashed from its funding.

The crossbench senator has emerged as a passionate supporter of clean energy and ARENA’s work, fuelling speculation that he may thwart the federal government bid to abolish the agency.

“Renewable energy is the way of the future and it’s something that very much interests me,” Senator Muir told AAP on Tuesday.

The government announced in the May budget its intention to save $1.3 billion over five years by axing ARENA, which was created to fund renewable projects and drive relevant research and investment.

To save the agency from the chopping block, Senator Muir will require the support of the three Palmer United Party senators.

Together the bloc is delivering the government the crucial votes it needs to repeal the carbon tax, but it is unclear whether PUP supports Senator Muir’s surprise bid to preserve ARENA’s funding.

A spokesman for Mr Muir said it was too premature to say whether the amendment would get the numbers needed to pass.

It is expected to be debated this week, as a vote to abolish the carbon tax draws nearer.

The Australian Greens, who moved an amendment virtually identical to Senator Muir’s, were cheered by the prospect of the cross bench fighting to save ARENA.

“The Greens welcome Ricky Muir’s support for the renewable energy agency and we hope that he will bring his Palmer United Party colleagues along with him,” leader Christine Milne said in a statement.

A Senate committee is considering separate legislation to junk the agency, which won’t return for debate until early September.

The contracts of the remaining ARENA board members expire next week.

The Greens have urged the government to reappoint the board so ARENA can continue its work until the legislation has been fully considered.