CEFC increases investments 73% YoY, steps up participation in new green capital products

The CEFC is playing an increasingly important role in Australia’s clean technology and renewable landscape, with the Australian financial year 2015-16 seeing the organization make critical investments in a number of new private sector cleantech funds.

Of four investments in new capital sources available to cleantech deployment, the CEFC has played an important role of in the formation of two funds that can be tapped for solar development. The CEFC made an AU$200 million investment in the Westpac Energy Efficient Financing Program, which will provide funding to small businesses to install solar, energy efficient technologies and low emissions vehicles. The CEFC also invested AU$20 million in a FlexiGroup green bond, the first certified green bond in Australia, which will make investments in solar PV and other renewable assets.

"We are pleased with the level of private sector interest we are seeing in clean energy, but this will need to further increase in the years ahead," said CEFC CEO Oliver Yates, in a statement. "Australia still faces a considerable investment challenge to deliver the clean energy solutions necessary to reduce emissions.”

The CEFC also made an AU$20 million direct investment in the AU$69 million, 25 MW (DC) Barcaldine Solar Farm in the financial year 2015-16. It is to be located nearby the rural town of Barcaldine in the state of Queensland.

"Across the economy, we are working to accelerate investment in renewable energy, increase energy efficiency in the manufacturing and transport sectors and improve energy standards in the built environment," said the CEFC’s Yates. "Our investments are delivering clean energy solutions to rural and regional Australia, as well as to our cities.”

In its three years of operation, the CEFC has committed AU$2.3 billion to cleantech investments and funds, worth a total of AU$5.7 billion. The CEFC announced its 2015-16 investment overview today.

ARENA invests in wind-PV co-location

The complimentary renewables body, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced that it would provide an AU$9.9 million grant to a 10 MW solar PV array to be installed adjacent to a solar farm. In what ARENA describes as the first co-located development of its kind in Australia, the Gullen Range Wind Farm is intended to be a lighthouse project to demonstrate the advantages of developing solar PV alongside existing wind arrays.

“Wind farm owners across Australia could benefit from adding solar plants to their existing sites," said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in a statement. "Developers can save money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs by co-locating wind and solar plants, whilst also reducing environmental impacts." Frischknecht noted that the solar generation profile is a good fit for existing wind, with the economics particularly attractive for medium-scale PV systems.

The Gullen Range Wind Farm owners estimate that by developing the AU$26 million, 10 MW PV project alongside existing wind will reduce project development costs by as much as AU$6 million, or 20%.

A recent ARENA-funded study has found that 1 GW of solar PV could be added alongside existing wind farms in Australia.

"We expect this to more than double by 2020 in line with Australia’s renewable energy target," said Frischnecht.

The project is located near to the Australian capital city of Canberra and is set to be completed by July 2017.

Both the CEFC and ARENA have been working under considerable uncertainty as the conservative Australian government sought to have both bodies scrapped. The political mood has changed somewhat, with Prime Ministership of Malcolm Turnbull, however the CEFC is likely to be instructed to provide additional funds for urban renewal projects and efforts to support the Great Barrier Reef. The government has also taken steps to de-fund ARENA, and move its activities under the auspices of the CEFC.