New Head of Australia’s Green Fund Sees First Investment by July 2013

The new head of Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) expects the fund to make its first investment on track by July next year. The fund was set up by the Labor government to invest A$10 billion (US$10.4 billion) in renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies, but its existence is tenuous with elections next year in Australia and Tony Abbott (currently Leader of the Opposition) seemingly opposed to anything looks sensible on climate change.

Oliver Yates, the CEFC’s inaugural chief executive and formerly Macquarie Group’s head of climate change services, was keen to stress the bank’s conservative approach and its initial preference for providing loans over equity.

He is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the corporation and, in cooperation with the Board, for the employment of other senior executives. One of his previous positions was at Macquarie Bank, where he was involved in establishing new businesses and growing operations internationally, and leading the bank’s initiatives in wind, solar, biofuels, carbon credits and other renewable businesses.

The CEFC was announced in July 2011 as part of the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Future Plan.

The corporation will be a $10 billion fund dedicated to mobilizing its own and private sector capital into renewable energy, low-emissions and energy efficiency projects and technologies in Australia.

It will operate with minimal budgetary assistance and make its investment decisions, independently of the government, based on commercial assessments.

“We are effectively here to use this money to generate a return and in so doing, do it in a way that provides as much catalytic benefit to the industry,” Oliver Yates told Renewable Energy World in an interview. “Our investments will be at the lower risk end of the spectrum, supporting projects where we can to meet our targets.”

“What we need to do now is encourage investors to try again,” Yates said.

The CEFC will aim for a rate of return comparable to the government’s bond rate and finance will go to projects at later stages of development. As a co-investor, it will be sharing risk with other financiers and investors and, unlike its US Department of Energy counterpart, will keep government at arms length.

Article appearing courtesy Celsias.

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