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CEFC funding 'would benefit solar power'

14th Nov 2012

Solar power could receive a boost if Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) funding was extended to the Renewable Energy Target, a new report has claimed.

A study by WWF and the Australian Solar Council, compiled by AECOM and ROAM, examined the impact of enabling projects access to Renewable Energy Credits above the current RET 2020 target.

So what does this actually mean? Well, the CEFC manages $10 billion of funding for assisting initiatives in overcoming the barriers to the spread of renewable energy technology.

Commercial and subsidised loans are given to big clean energy projects to help them achieve their aims - but renewable proponents have claimed schemes will require additional help by being included in the RET, which provides further protection.

And it appears they were right, with the report showing a significant rise in job creation and emissions reductions were this to be the case.

John Grimes, Australian Solar Council chief executive, said solar power will be the "big winner" from CEFC funding in its early years.

He stated: "The modelling made some conservative assumptions and we predict that if the CEFC was made additional to the RET, it would drive a solar boom and bring down costs faster."

The results indicated that 37 per cent more large scale renewables projects would pop up and at least 5,000 clean energy positions would be made - and that's only until 2020.

According to Kellie Caught, WWF's climate change national manager, the benefits for an extended RET would be much more significant.

"By 2030, together the CEFC and an increased RET could create 28,000 new jobs, double current estimates, and significantly reduce emissions, putting us firmly on a low carbon pathway," she explained.

And she argued that extending the RET for another decade would also provide a safer platform for investors - by increasing the security of the sustainable industry and eradicating the boom-bust cycle seen in the solar power sector.

In this time of tight fiscal control, Kellie added, it would be prudent for the government to get "greater bang for their buck".

The Australian Solar Council and WWF both urged the federal government to roll the CEFC funding into the RET by creating a top-up system or raising the 2020 and 2030 RET targets. 

The report followed a recent Climate Change Authority preliminary update that stated it will likely maintain the RET at its current level of 20 per cent of energy from sustainable sources by 2020.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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