Australian Renewable Energy Roundup

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Tuesday was a significant day for renewable energy related announcements and activities in Australia; even though the shadow of the Government’s renewables razor gang looms large.
  
Most of the focus was on several announcements made by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
  
The CEFC has committed to  provide up to $80 million to Colonial First State Global Asset Management (CFSGAM) to establish Australia’s first unlisted clean energy direct infrastructure investment platform. The CFS Australian Clean Energy Infrastructure Fund (CFSGAM) will seek to raise a further $300-$500 million to invest in green field developments.
    
The CEFC also announced it will provide finance of up to $120 million for three new Solar PV financing programs offering long-term leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs) for commercial and residential installations. The major program will be run by US solar giant, SunEdison ($70 million).
 
Also gaining backing is the construction of the Uterne 2 solar farm with $13 million to be provided under a structured project finance facility. Uterne 2 will be a 3.1 MW expansion of Uterne 1, a 1MW solar PV power plant in Alice Springs that has been operating since 2011.
  
The CEFC had a contracted portfolio of investments of over $900 million in projects totaling over $3 billion in value by the end of the 2013/14 financial year. Each of its more than 40 direct investments and 25 projects are expected to achieve an average financial yield of about 7 per cent. 
 
While the CEFC is living up to expectations – and perhaps even exceeding them, the Abbott government still seems set on destroying it. 
 
According to Business Spectator, Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Bob Baldwin stated the government was determined to press on with abolishing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). 
 
Mr. Baldwin also refused to provide any reassurance about the government’s commitment to the Renewable Energy Target.
  
Given his speech was delivered to members of the clean energy industry at the Clean Energy Week conference; it wasn’t particularly well received. 
 
The head of the Renewable Energy Target Review, Dick Warburton also signaled yesterday there may be changes to the RET; with speculation mounting those changes won’t be positive. According to the Financial Review; Mr. Warburton also expressed concerns over any changes proposed being blocked. 
 
However, that isn’t Mr. Warburton’s concern said Lane Crockett, executive General Manager, Pacific Hydro Australia, to the ABC.
 
“Why the head of an independent panel would have concerns about that when surely their job is just to review the industry and the benefits of the industry to Australia more broadly, I can’t answer that question.”
  
Regardless of the Federal Government’s intention; the future of solar is looking very positive in New South Wales. The Baird government says it will install solar on as many of its buildings as possible and cut red tape for wind farms.
  
“When it comes to clean energy, we can be Australia’s answer to California,” said Environment Minister Rob Stokes; who also spoke at the Clean Energy Week event.
  
While the Clean Energy Council’s Clean Energy Week is under way; the Australian Solar Council (ASC) is preparing for the next stage in its battle.
   
The ASC has announced it will be spearheading a marginal seats campaign to save the Renewable Energy Target and will be starting with the seat of Petrie in the northern suburbs of Brisbane
   
“Although the Government remains committed to abolishing or winding back the RET, it appears unlikely to succeed in the Senate. We are now concerned the Government will run ‘dead’ on the issue, prolonging investment uncertainty by simply doing nothing,” said Australian Solar Council CEO John Grimes.
  
“If they do, they will effectively close down large scale solar projects because of the ‘locked in’ policy uncertainty between now and 2016 – 17…. We need to move them from opposition to the RET, to  supporting the status quo.”
  
Added note: On Tuesday, the Clean Energy Council released an open letter signed by 17 major investors in the clean energy industry that warned of the risks in any changes to the RET