NAB, CEFC in $120m scheme to boost commercial solar, EV uptake

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CEFC-backed $120m loan program to be offered through NAB to help Australian businesses switch to solar, EVs, energy efficient technologies.

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The uptake of commercial solar and electric vehicles looks set to get a boost in Australia with the launch of a $120 million investment program designed to help businesses cut their energy and operating costs.

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The CEFC supported scheme – which will be made available through the National Australia Bank – will target a broad commercial base, but with a particular focus on agribusiness and regional Australia.

The loans offered to participating businesses will be at a rate 70 basis points below NAB’s standard equipment finance rate.

The loan scheme’s main aim is to help accelerate the switch to greener vehicles – hybrid and pure EVs and the charging infrastructure to support them – as well as to help businesses upgrade industrial and agricultural equipment and increase their uptake of rooftop PV, solar thermal for hot water and heat pumps and solar PV to displace diesel generation.

“Cutting energy costs has never been more important for Australian businesses,” said CEFC CEO Oliver Yates in a statement on Tuesday.

“Australia spends more than $120 billion a year on energy – that’s a  67 per cent increase over 10 years. With the right equipment, businesses can lower energy and operating costs, cut heating, cooling and lighting bills and even create energy from waste.”

EVs have been slow to take off in Australia, due to a combination of high cost, a lack of government support or incentives, and a lack of charging infrastructure – although things are changing on this last front, with plans for a fast charging network to be installed on the nation’s east coast, using locally made technology.

Commercial solar has also been slow on the uptake – despite the plunging price of the technology – as Australian businesses weigh up the costs and benefits in an uncertain policy environment.

“This investment program is available to provide an incentive for businesses to act now, undertaking both small and large scale projects, up to $5 million,” said Yates.

“This has been designed so the benefits of the $120 million in new CEFC funding will flow through to the businesses who invest in high efficiency and clean energy equipment.”

The CEFC-NAB program will also focus on equipment like variable speed pumps in the irrigation sector, and upgrades to industrial and commercial refrigeration. Investments in biogas, bio-digesters and micro turbines, as well as fuel switching equipment and processes, will also be eligible for finance.

“Businesses wanting to cut energy costs by switching to hybrid and electric vehicles can benefit from this finance, as can agribusinesses wanting to improve irrigation and other productive equipment,” said Yates.

The program is also designed to support financing for a range of eligible projects under the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF).

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