Australia: CEFC-Westpac scheme to help business adopt solar, battery storage, EVs

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Using AUS$200 million from the CEFC, the Westpac Energy Efficient Financing Program will offer finance leases, commercial loans and commercial hire purchase finance for qualifying renewable energy and energy efficient technologies, as well as low emissions vehicles, the bank said on Tuesday.

The program will provide customers from a range of sectors including education, health, aged care sectors, agribusiness, and state and local government with a 0.7 per cent per annum discount on finance for qualifying projects. The finance, which is for up to 100 per cent of the project cost, is available for terms of up to 10 years for individual projects starting at $15,000.

Eligible projects include: rooftop and off-grid solar PV; battery storage and solar thermal; installation of energy efficiency equipment; low emissions vehicles; energy efficiency retrofits or upgrades; and energy-from-waste.

Businesses opting to use the financing program will be guided on which technology to invest in by energy services company Verdia, which will also help businesses with designing an effective project, sourcing quality equipment and with ongoing asset management.

"Westpac is committed to helping make Australian businesses stronger and we recognise the opportunities that come with investment in energy efficiency, both in terms of lower costs for business and better environmental outcomes," said the bank’s general manager of commercial services, Alastair Welsh.

"This is an end-to-end solution… supported by access to tailored discounted finance from Westpac. Westpac and Verdia will work with customers to design, deliver and finance everything from single-site to large, multi-site energy efficiency and distributed energy programs," he said.

Verdia CEO Paul Peters said that while Australian businesses were keen to improve their efficiency and productivity, there remained a number of stumbling blocks that prevented them from implementing energy efficient and solar projects.

"These are usually lack of in-house resource to research and manage projects; difficulty in selecting the right supplier and equipment for their business; and the significant up-front capital investment required for new or upgraded equipment," Peters said.

"The traditional electricity grid is evolving into a more flexible, distributed network. Ultimately, this will enable Australia to reduce carbon emissions and meet our climate change commitments.

"Verdia’s mission is to support the transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, and to make that change happen sooner," he said.

This is not the first time the CEFC has worked with Australian banks to offer business customers discounted loans to boost the uptake of energy saving technology. In 2014, it teamed with the Commonwealth Bank to deliver a funding mechanism designed to halve the energy costs of Victorian manufacturers. And to boost Australia’s renewable energy sector, it has teamed with the Commonwealth, NAB and Palisade Investments to provide up to $1 billion in equity and finance for large-scale renewables projects.

CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said the green bank hoped the new Westpac scheme would also encourage businesses to look carefully at their transport solutions and switch to lower emissions options for their fleets, in particular.

"Access to the discounted CEFC finance being offered through Westpac is a compelling reason to act now to lock in business and environmental benefits," Yates said.

This article was originally published in RenewEconomy. It is re-published with permission.