Clean Energy Finance Corp to invest $1b towards solar of all sizes

Australia’s solar industry looks set to receive an investment boost, after the Clean Energy Finance Corporation revealed plans to finance more than $1 billion of solar projects in the local market.

CEFC chief executive Oliver Yates says the institution – which has a budget of $10 billion over five years but which the Coalition government has been trying to close down, without success – is currently considering more than $500 million in finance for projects worth more than $1 billion.

These include its pipeline of leasing and power purchase agreement products for commercial and residential customers, utility-scale solar PV projects, and large-scale solar thermal projects, and solar plus storage projects for non-grid remote areas.

The CEFC is already playing a key role in the financing of the Moree solar farm – and other non solar projects such as wind farms and the next stage of the Carnegie Wave Energy project near Perth.

It has been taking a particularly interest in commercial solar, which Yates noted accounted for just under 25 per cent of new solar PV capacity in Australia at the moment.

“We expect this trend to continue, as more businesses experience the benefits of solar in helping them bring down their energy and operating costs over time,” Yates said.

“The emergence of battery technology in particular is likely to be a game changer for commercial solar, because of its ability to improve the reliability of supply.

He also said that solar homes typically use solar for about 30 per cent of their electricity needs, but with battery storage, this could be boosted to over 70 per cent. It believes there is similar potential in the commercial sector.

Yates said solar costs would continue to fall, and this was evidenced by record-breaking bids being achieved for new projects in the US, the UK, Dubai and South Africa.

In Australia, the CEFC is working with project proponents, major utilities and retailers to expand the range of solar finance options, to deepen solar penetration in both the commercial and residential sectors.

Giles Parkinson