CEFC key to unlocking huge renewables market

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CEFC CEO Oliver Yates says fund’s role as ‘circuit-breaker or catalyst’ in Australian renewables has been crucial, and he hopes it can keep doing its job.

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The chief of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has made another pitch for the cause of the $10 billion green bank, describing its role as a “specialist financier” for Australia’s renewables industry as critical.

Speaking at the Australian Solar Council conference in Melbourne on Friday, Yates described renewable energy assets as a “unique animal,” with huge potential to create jobs, transform Australia’s supply chain industry and replace fossil fuels.

Yates said the CEFC’s role as a “circuit-breaker or catalyst,” in an increasingly complex political and economic environment, had been a great success.

The CEFC has unlocked finance for $2.5 billion in projects through the allocation of $700 million in funds since it began formal operations in July last year, and “we hope to keep doing our job,” said Yates on Friday, alluding to the Abbott government’s plans to scrap the fund come July.

For solar projects, typified by high upfront costs and very low ongoing costs, providing ready access to funding was particularly important, he said.

Yates said that an attitude of short-termism still dominated in Australia, despite the fact that renewables were not going to get any more expensive – “unlike other forms of generation” – they were just going to get cheaper.

“Fossil fuel assets will have to be replaced, and what a time to replace them.

“The renewables industry is unique in its reductions in costs,” Yates said, adding that he had watched the “continual grinding down of costs” in wind and solar over the past decade with great interest.

Yates, whose previous job as a Macquarie banker spanned over 20 years, also stressed one of the CEFC’s main goals – to make money by developing renewables.

“We do want our money back with interest,” he told the conference,” but we’re happy to ride the bumps with you.”

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