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Australian renewable energy venture capital fund launched

19th Dec 2011

The federal government has announced the appointed fund manager of Australia’s largest renewable energy venture capital fund.

Southern Cross Venture Partners has been named as the successful bidder, in a move that will make a total of $200 million available to renewable energy companies from early next year.

The $100 million energy fund comes as part of the Australian Government's $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency and will be matched dollar for dollar by Softbank China Venture Capital.

High-potential Australian renewable energy start-up companies - including those involving solar power - are set to benefit from the venture, assisting them to "overcome capital constraints, develop technologies, increase skills and forge international linkages".

The fund is expected to actively seek further private sector funding to support its growing portfolio of companies.

According to the minister for resources and energy Martin Ferguson, the 13-year Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund confirms the government's commitment to innovation and support for the development, commercialisation and deployment of Australian renewable energy.

"While Australia has many innovative companies developing renewable energy technologies, early-stage companies with a limited operating history have found it difficult to source venture capital," he said at the fund launch (December 15).

"This fund will provide capital finance and active management to help promising Australian renewable energy companies achieve commercial success in Australia and overseas markets."

News of the fund comes as one of our Asian neighbours plans to scale up its solar capacity.

China has announced the further revision of its solar power development target for 2015, increasing its aim by 50 per cent from its previous plan. 

According to China National Radio, the National Energy Administration announced that the government has now set a target for installed solar power generating capacity to reach 15 gigawatts - or an annual output of 20 billion kilowatt hours - by 2015.

Despite being the world's largest exporter of photovoltaic products, China recorded an installed solar power capacity of less than 1 gigawatt at the end of 2010.

The rapid increase in solar power installation this year came after the government unified grid feed-in tariffs for solar projects for the first time in July, as well as offering a higher price for larger projects put into operation before 2012.

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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