Buoyed by “strong performance,” the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has spurred almost $30 million in clean energy investment since its inception in 2012, according to the green bank’s annual report. This includes financing projects which have delivered 2.9 GW of renewable energy capacity to the Australian grid across 24 solar farms and nine wind farms.
Since the CEFC began investing eight years ago, it has financed 31 utility scale solar projects and 12 wind farms. Two of their solar projects, the troubled Oakey II solar farm in Queensland, the Numurkah solar farm in Victoria, achieved first generation in FY19-20.
The green bank said it will prioritise investment in innovative technology and finance solutions to further accelerate emissions reduction in future. This includes measures to deliver a stronger, cleaner electricity grid, investing in large scale energy storage solutions as well as backing opportunities in hydrogen.
Among the investment highlights noted in the report was a 50% increase in the capacity of Australia’s largest battery in Hornsdale, South Australia.
In the last financial year alone, the CEFC made over $1 billion of investment commitments with with a combined value of $4.2 billion, targeting more than one million tons of carbon abatement annually. As of June 30, 2020, the CEFC lifetime investment commitments reached $8.2 billion, with the lifetime value of those investments over $27 billion.
Coupled with the support of the private sector as well as government agencies, the CEFC says its investments have supported “substantial” cost reductions in solar technologies, a trend they see continuing.
CEO Ian Learmonth said the annual report provided compelling evidence of the potential for Australia to achieve a low emissions economy, capitalising on innovative technology and investment solutions.
“For the year ahead, we are focused on investing in a secure, affordable and sustainable energy system, to increase the share of renewable energy in a modernised electricity grid. We are also committed to backing opportunities in energy storage in batteries, virtual power plants and pumped hydro,” Mr Learmonth said in a statement.
Despite the disruption of Covid-19, the CEFC continued a strong financial performance with almost $942 million repaid or recouped, alongside revenue of $205 million and a normalised surplus from operations of over $100 million.
CEFC Chair Steven Skala AO said the challenging economic conditions of the past year have reaffirmed the corporation’s commitment to “prudent investment.”
“Since inception, sound financial management has been a hallmark of CEFC operations, driven by the acknowledgement that it invests on behalf of Australian taxpayers, with a responsibility to meet agreed policy objectives and deliver a positive financial return,” Skala said in a statement.
This recommitment to “prudent investment” comes after the federal government in September announced a plan to siphon funds from the green bank to prop up gas generation, sparking widespread outcry.
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