Image from ARENA

Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) injected an additional $1.4 billion into clean energy projects in the 2020-21 financial year, plus a major $295 million investment towards transmission infrastructure.  

Now in its tenth year of operation, the government-owned CEFC has all up committed $9.5 billion of public funds with the aim of accelerating clean energy programs while delivering positive financial returns for tax payers. 

The value of capital returns in 2020-21 was $823 million, totalling returns of $2.48 billion over the CEFC’s lifetime, from $7.4 billion already deployed.

The organisation also revealed its largest single investment ever of $295 million towards infrastructure connecting the power grids of South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, as part of Project EnergyConnect. Although, the capital was officially committed after the end of the 2020-21 financial year and therefore was not included in the $1.4 billion total for that period. 

EnergyConnect includes a new 900 kilometre interconnector between Wagga Wagga in New South Wales and Robertstown in South Australia, with a connection to Red Cliffs in Victoria, allowing more wind and solar generation, at a total estimated cost of $1.52 billion. 

The CEFC also made its first hydrogen-related investment in the form of $750,000 to Wollongong University start-up Hysata to commercialise innovative electrolyser production technology.

The money was part of $31.9 million committed through the CEFC’s Clean Energy Innovation Fund during 2020-21 — taking the total spent to $117.6 million — specifically aimed at developing businesses that can lower Australia’s emissions.

One of the aims of the CEFC is to leverage its investments to attract additional capital from the private sector, which in 2020-21 was calculated at a rate of $2.68 of private investment for every dollar committed by the organisation. 

“Our expertise in developing new markets, building investor confidence and crafting bespoke and innovative investment products is helping lead the market into new frontiers with vision and purpose,” chief executive Ian Learmonth said 

“We are positioning Australia to take advantage of the clean energy opportunities for new jobs and economic growth, along with the environmental, social and health benefits that will also emerge.”

Other investment highlights for the year: 

First major transmission transaction: $125 million to help deliver grid infrastructure critical to delivery of the landmark Snowy 2.0 pumped storage project

Australia’s first forward-looking climate index: $60 million cornerstone investment in the BNP Paribas green bond linked to the new Australian Climate Transition Index 

Regenerative farming transformation: $50 million investment in science-led sustainable farming platform, to lift yields and climate resilience, while cutting carbon emissions 

Recycling Investment Fund gets started: $16.5 million investment to recycle the equivalent of some one billion PET bottles into high-grade food packaging 

Backing for next generation solar PV technology: $10 million investment to develop Sunman’s revolutionary lightweight, flexible solar panels 

Deploying embodied carbon in property construction: $95 million in debt finance to support the use of low carbon concrete in Perth’s Roe Highway Logistics Park 

Record 11 new investments in cleantech: driving almost $32 million in new investment commitments through the specialist Clean Energy Innovation Fund 

First all green residential mortgage-backed securitisation: $108.5 million investment to help deliver sustainable housing through Firstmac green home loans 

Greener homes for people living with a disability: $87 million investment in first the specialist  disability accommodation platform with a sustainability focus 

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