Legislation for the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has passed the Senate, giving the green light for the establishment of a $10 billion green investment bank for clean energy development, part of the federal government’s carbon price package. Under the bill, the government will invest $2 billion a year over five years, with which the CEFC will support renewable and low-emission projects through loans, guarantees and equity investments. The government says the corporation will become self-supporting.
The passage of the CEFC into law last night was welcomed by clean energy industry and green groups, who say it will unlock significant renewable energy investment in Australia. Clean Energy Council acting CEO Kane Thornton described it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turbo-charge Australia’s clean energy sector. “The CEFC has a critical role to play in bridging the gap between early research and development and the commercialisation of clean energy technologies,” he said. “Australia has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world and, with financing from the CEFC, we are well-positioned to attract a massive amount of private investment into clean energy.” Thornton said the CEFC would also help to insure Australia’s economy against the risks associated with fossil-fuel-based technologies. “For the first time Australia has a suite of policies to support new energy technologies from research to full-scale roll-out,” he said.
WWF Australia’s climate change spokesperson Kellie Caught said the CEFC was a great example of the carbon price at work. “The revenue raised from Australia’s top 300 polluters will be spent in delivering new renewable energy in Australia, creating new jobs and generating less carbon emissions. It’s very exciting for Australia’s future,” Caught said. “The Clean Energy Finance Corporation will go further than the RET scheme by helping commercialise a broader range of renewable technologies like big solar projects, which will help develop new industries and assist with energy security.”
Caught also said the CEFC would help bring Australia up to par with clean energy leaders like China, the US and Germany. And she stressed that the Corporation could be more effective if its investments were additional to the current Renewable Energy Target of 20 per cent. “Energy companies are saying that the current market is already capable of delivering investment beyond the 20 per cent target, even in the absence of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation,” Caught said. “By making the CEFC investments additional, not only would we get a broader range of renewable technologies, but we would get more renewable energy in the electricity grid.”
Standby devices costing UK £1.3bn a year
A new study has found that UK households are wasting up to £1.3 billion a year as a direct result of stand-by settings and devices that are left on when not in use. BusinessGreen reports that the study – “Powering the Nation – household energy habits uncovered,” undertaken by Defra, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Energy Saving Trust – used data collected through the installation of over 250 advanced smart meters in owner-occupied households, and surveyed of participants in the trial on their use of electrical appliances. The results revealed a widespread reluctance to turn off devices when not in use and a reliance on stand-by settings which over the course of a year still add significant sums to energy bills. It also confirmed that the the UK is watching 10 billion hours more TV than previously thought, adding £205 million to electricity bills.
A spokesman for Defra said the results highlighted the need for better communication from government and businesses to make people aware of the savings they could realise by turning devices off. But he also confirmed it would inform government efforts to encourage manufacturers to produce more efficient electrical devices. “We are working very closely with the EU on this, and we want to see manufacturers embrace Green Energy Labels,” he added. The new study comes just days after the release of a major new report from a group of electronics firms, including Philips, Electrolux, Bosch and Siemens, called on the European Commission to beef up its Ecodesign Directive, arguing that more demanding energy efficiency standards for housheold appliances could save European businesses and consumers up to €90bn a year.
Vestas blows hot
Shares in Danish wind giant Vestas Wind Systems jumped by 2.7 percent on the Copenhagen 20 Index – making it the biggest winner on the benchmark index yesterday – on the news that the world’s largest wind turbine maker had won its biggest service contract to date. Bloomberg reports that the stock rose by 0.13 krone, or 0.4 per cent, to 30.45 kroner at 10:13 am in the Danish capital after Vestas announced it would provide maintenance for as long as seven years on more than 1,100 US and European wind turbine owned by EDP Renovaveis SA. Before the announcement, the company’s shares were down as much as 0.9 per cent. Back in February, Vestas said that its service business had become more profitable than the division that sells wind turbines, and predicted it would be its fastest growing business going forward.