Manufacturers set to see bright side of economic slump?

3rd Jul 2013

With all the government unrest over the last few weeks, the solar industry could be forgiven for assuming there are dark days ahead for sun-powered technology.

But amid the various rumours of carbon price reductions and other potentially calamitous and bungled policy suggestions, the federal government has announced $100 million of funding that will benefit renewables.

In a public-private sector funding arrangement, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) revealed it is teaming up with Commonwealth Bank to provide new loans for manufacturers and other firms to upgrade their equipment and machinery to environmentally friendly alternatives.

Both sides will be stumping up $50 million for businesses looking to undertake a number of projects, including installing solar panel systems, trigeneration plants and other commercial energy efficiency changes.

Oliver Yates, CEO of the CEFC, said the money will be important for manufacturers in particular, as the industry has experienced tough economic conditions.

He said: "In an environment of rising energy prices and a high Australian dollar, we are helping business to improve their energy productivity, transform energy use and reduce costs, so they can better position themselves in a low carbon economy.

"These loans are designed to help businesses upgrade equipment for improved energy efficiency and can be used to finance up to 100 per cent of the project cost, enabling businesses to preserve their working capital."

In fact, according to the CEFC, the cash is already being put to good use, with a number of organisations already receiving funding for initiatives.

The Clean Energy Council (CEC) applauded the announcement, suggesting it could encourage more public-private partnerships for energy efficiency improvements.

"This kind of commercial loan program shares the risk between the public and private sectors and provides funding that would not otherwise be available," stated CEC policy director Russell Marsh.

At a time when the manufacturing sector is in the doldrums, schemes like this are always welcomed, he added, with companies able to make substantial savings on their energy consumption.

Being able to give companies a nudge in the right direction by lowering the upfront capital expenditure required to make sustainable changes is usually good news for local business, Marsh added.

"Manufacturing businesses which may be doing it tough due to the high Australian dollar and increased competition from countries with lower labour costs will be able to finance upgrades that will substantially cut their power bills," he concluded.

Posted by Bob Dawson

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