13 May 2015
Solar is playing an increasingly important role in Australia’s energy mix and Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) CEO Oliver Yates says the CEFC is helping accelerate its potential.
Mr Yates, who took part in the Australian Solar Council’s Solar 2015 conference in Melbourne, said the CEFC is working to support the growing Australian commercial solar market, by financing the innovative use of solar technologies across a broad range of industries.
Australia has more than 4GW of installed rooftop solar PV with residential systems accounting for the bulk of that capacity. However, commercial solar is now rapidly ramping up with just under 25 per cent of new solar PV installed capacity being made for businesses looking to generate their own onsite solar energy.
“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,” Mr 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. Solar homes typically use solar for about 30 per cent of their electricity needs. With battery storage, this could be boosted to over 70 per cent, an indication of the scale of the potential benefits for commercial solar. Solar with storage can also reduce the reliance on diesel-fired generators in remote areas.”
Mr Yates said that solar costs continue to fall, evidenced by utility-scale solar becoming increasingly competitive in overseas markets, with 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. Solar technologies make up just over a quarter of the CEFC’s total contracted investments. The CEFC is considering more than $500 million in finance for solar projects totalling more than $1 billion in value.
“The CEFC is investing in utility-scale solar projects at Moree and in the Northern Territory, both of which are demonstrating solar’s strong applicability in regional and remote locations. The CEFC is also considering investments in later-stage solar thermal and storage technologies.”
The CEFC is also playing an important role as a cornerstone investor to enable further development of solar technologies in Australia.
“We provided cornerstone investment in NAB green bond issuance, which increases the amount of private sector capital available for renewables and made a cornerstone commitment to Sundrop Farms, in Port Augusta, South Australia, which is demonstrating world leading sustainable agriculture using solar thermal technology.