CEFC commits another $100m to energy efficiency
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation says it will provide up to $100 million of debt finance to accelerate investment in “deep” retrofits to commercial properties. The finance is being made available through non-bank commercial loan manager Balmain Corporation, and will be used to support investment that lifts a building’s energy and environmental rating (NABERS) by at least two stars.
The deal extends the CEFC’s focus on energy efficiency following similar agreements with the Commonwealth Bank ($200 million) and NAB ($80 million). CEFC chief executive Oliver Yates says nearly 80 per cent of Australia’s commercial office buildings are at least a decade old and rretrofitting and deploying energy efficient technology is one of the most cost-effective opportunities for improving their productivity, reducing energy and overhead costs and reducing carbon emissions.
“This agreement will provide an incentive for major property upgrades that reduce building energy costs and increase average annualised returns – a good news story for all interested in sustainability in the property sector,” he said in a statement. Balmain CEO Andrew Griffin said the finance was needed because while there can be a positive business case for significantly improving energy efficiency, building owners often had other priorities for their available capital.
Suntech to launch Solar Analytics tool
Australia has nearly 1.5 million solar PV systems installed across the country, but here’s an interesting statistic: Less than one per cent of households have any ability to determine how well their solar PV system is performing. The few stats that are available on rooftop PV performance suggest there is improvement to be made. A study of 8,200 systems on the Ausgrid network in NSW found that average performance was 80 per cent of what it should have been, even after accounting for tilt and shade.
According to Stefan Jarnason, technical director at Suntech’s Power Australia’s joint venture Solar Analytics, almost half of residential systems are probably underperforming. This is costing solar PV system owners hundreds to thousands of dollars per year in lost revenue. Most of those that signed up for solar PV systems did so because they were being offered generous tariffs. As those tariffs expire in most states in coming years, and as more households sign up with little reward for exports to the grid, the performance of those systems becomes even more important to ensure a return on investment.
Suntech, through their joint venture Solar Analytics, is rolling out a new solar analytics monitoring product that Jarnason says could lift the average performance from the current average level of 80 per cent of optimum output to 96 per cent. Suntech has been working on the web-based solution – which combines patented algorithms for local weather patterns, orientation and diagnosis – for years, although it has taken a couple of years longer than initially thought. “People simply don’t know how well their solar PV system performs. Even with expensive monitoring system – it tells you them how much they are producing, not how much they should be producing.
Infigen throws weight behind climate petition
Listed renewable energy company Infigen Energy has thrown its weight behind a petition – with more than 41,000 signatures to date – that calls for more ambitious climate action, and for the retention of the current 41,000GWh renewable energy target. The open letter at AustraliansForAction.org.au, is addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and opposition leader Bill Shorten.
Infigen says the RET is responsible for reducing Australia’s emissions by an equivalent of 22.5 megatonnes of CO2 between 2001 and 2012 and will be the main contributor to future emissions reductions. Further, although adding around 3 to 5 per cent of the unit cost of electricity, it has put downward pressure on wholesale electricity pool prices that more than offset the prima facie cost of the scheme. It says the RET has generated more than 24,000 jobs and $18.5 billion of investment, and is projected to generate a further $18.7 billion of investment by 2030. It also notes that The Climate Change Authority (CCA) released a report in March 2014, suggesting Australia should commit to a 19 per cent target instead of a five per cent emission reduction target by 2020.
Solar360 plans own branded module
Australian solar wholesaler and project facilitator Solar360 says it has developed its own branded solar panel in response to quality concerns within the industry. It says it is manufactured by one of the top 10 global manufacturers and owill land in the Australian market during April 2014.