The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has made its first major investment since the election of the Abbott government, providing $20 million in finance towards new biogas infrastructure aimed at cutting energy costs for farmers and manufacturers.
The $10 billion green development bank has been on shaky ground since the Coalition came to power, but Tony Abbott’s best laid plans to dismantle the CEFC have been unsuccessful so far, and may be stymied again in July, if Independent MP Nick Xenophon and DLP Senator John Madigan continue to support it.
In a speech to the Senate in at the end of 2013, Senator Madigan urged the federal government to retain the CEFC, and suggested the move to abolish it was ideologically driven.
“(The CEFC) is not providing grants to fund projects,” he said. “It is not giving away taxpayers’ money. It is a pro-industry development bank that is helping drive private and public investment in lower emission and cleaner energy technologies.
“It is helping our farmers and our manufacturers to reduce their costs and to use energy-efficient equipment. It requires borrowers to be responsible, to deliver on their project commitments and to repay their borrowings. It leverages private capital to invest in areas they might otherwise ignore, like energy generation using methane emissions from farms and industrial processes.”
CEFC CEO Oliver Yates said on Wednesday that the Corpoaration’s funding deal with Quantum Power Limited – Australia’s leading biogas company – aims to catalyse up to $40 million in biogas infrastructure, giving farmers and manufacturers more control over costs, and boosting their productivity in the face of rising electricity prices.
“Our agreement with biogas specialist Quantum Power enables food processers and other agribusinesses to turn onsite waste streams into a valuable source of energy,” said Yates in a media statement. “Quantum Power will build and manage the onsite facilities, leaving businesses free to keep focused on their core operations.”
The CEFC says finance for agreed Quantum Power projects – projects that have typically found it difficult to find project finance in the private market – will be on a deal-by-deal basis, with each project likely to cost around $2 million to $4 million.
“We have already partnered with Quantum Power to accelerate two projects – an anaerobic digester for an egg producer and a biogas plant upgrade at a major rendering plant,” said Yates. “Both recycle organic waste to dramatically reduce their reliance on grid electricity by between 35 and 60 percent.”