Australia's $125m solar drive

Australia's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has announced A$133m ($125m) of solar investment.

It will provide up to A$120m for three new PV programmes offering long-term leasing and power-purchase agreements (PPAs).

"We're working with Australian and international financial institutions, solar providers and manufacturers to offer new financing products that will widen and deepen the take-up of solar technology across Australia," says chief executive Oliver Yates.

"Our new offerings are an important development in solar PV financing in Australia because they include both PPAs and solar leasing."

Up to A$70m will go to a programme by SunEdison, the US vertically integrated company, offering customers solar leases or the option to purchase the power under a PPA.

A further A$20m will finance a programme offered by Australia's only manufacturer of PV panels, Tindo Solar, offering PPA product to commercial and residential customers, while A$30m will go to the Kudos Energy programme, which is backed by the US-based Angeleno Group, offering PPAs focused on commercial and multi-unit residential customers.

Meanwhile, at utility scale, the CEFC will be providing A$13m under a structured project finance facility to build Uterne 2, a 3.1MW expansion of Epuron's 1MW PV power plant in Alice Springs that uses solar-tracking technology.

In an Australian first, the corporation will also provide up to A$80m as the initial cornerstone investor under an agreement with the infrastructure division of Colonial First State Global Asset Management to establish an unlisted clean-energy direct infrastructure investment platform for institutional investors, the CFS Australian Clean Energy Infrastructure Fund. 

Colonial First State will seek to raise a further A$300m-500m to invest in greenfield developments ready for construction and mature operating assets using established technologies in renewables, energy efficiency or low-emissions technologies.   

The CEFC was recently saved from abolition, after Senator Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party refused to back a motion to scrap it.

The corporation is examining proposals for about 70 projects seeking finance of more than A$1bn, for total project costs in excess of A$4bn. At the end of 2013-14, it had a contracted portfolio of investments of more than A$900m in projects worth A$3bn.