Clean Energy Finance Corporation loans target Australian agribusiness

The corporation will supply small- and large-scale loans of up to $5m, for projects including more efficient irrigation, waste-to-energy plants and solar installations.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), a government-funded organisation, is providing $120 million through the National Australia Bank (NAB) to encourage Australian agribusiness to cut energy costs.

Loans or asset leases of up to $5 million are available for businesses to replace old plant and equipment, including irrigation projects where newly-installed motors and pumps use high efficiency engines and variable speed drives, according to a CEFC fact sheet.

Upgrades to more efficient refrigeration for industrial and commercial refrigeration are also covered. Other eligible projects include hybrid, electric or fuel-efficient vehicles, as well as solar energy, energy efficiency on buildings, and biogas and bio-digesters for onsite generation.

“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,” Yates noted in a statement. “Energy use is a major cost for Australia’s agricultural sector and, unless addressed, can adversely affect Australia’s economic competitiveness.”

According to a fact sheet, as of 30 June 2014, the CEFC had contracted investments of over $900 million in projects with a total value of over $3 billion. NAB and CEFC co-financed solar installations for Australia’s largest beef cattle producer, the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo), and backed a waste-to-energy project at Queensland poultry producer Darling Downs Fresh Eggs.

“A business or organisation that takes energy efficiency measures seriously, shows that they are serious about running a profitable and highly productive business and organisation, with the added benefit of reducing their emissions,” Yates said in a fact sheet.