The “overwhelming success” of National Australia Bank’s Energy Efficient Bonus program – which gives a 0.7 per cent loan discount for energy efficiency upgrades – has seen the Clean Energy Finance Corporation commit an additional $180 million in finance, bringing the total pool to $300 million.

The program was initially launched in 2015 with $120 million in CEFC finance to fund clean energy and efficiency upgrades such as solar PV, building upgrades, lighting upgrades, refrigeration and efficient vehicles. The discounted loans are available for terms of up to 10 years for amounts between $10,000 and $5 million.

“We are pleased to provide further finance for this highly successful program, which is making it easier for businesses to tap into the benefits of energy efficient, renewable energy and low emissions technologies,” CEFC head of portfolio management Paul Greenop said.

The program to date has already provided finance to more than 1000 projects, with particular success in the agricultural sector, which has used it for equipment upgrades.

NAB Agribusiness general manager Khan Horne said 85 per cent of farm customers saw energy costs as a significant business risk.

“Clean energy asset finance can make a big impact on the operations of businesses which have made the switch to more productive and energy efficient equipment and processes, typically reducing energy costs by 10 to 20 per cent,” he said.

“When organisations look at cutting energy costs, they tend to initially think about lighting upgrades, and upgrades to airconditioning, but the possibilities are far greater. We’re also seeing major investment to upgrade energy intensive manufacturing and agricultural equipment, as well as solid investment in more efficient light vehicles and rooftop solar PV.”

An example of a loan customer includes Goulburn Valley apple and pear farmer GV Storage, which has installed a 506kW rooftop solar system that can meet 65 per cent of business energy needs.

South Australian potato, onion and carrot grower Parilla Premium Potatoes upgraded its crop irrigators with energy efficient variable rate centre pivots, reducing energy use by 15 per cent, and water and fertiliser use by 20 per cent.

CEFC also has energy efficient loan programs with Commonwealth Bank and Westpac.

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