Low-cost finance scheme for solar extended

Small businesses will be able to access low-cost finance to support the adoption of renewable energy, in a partnership between the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and councils in NSW and South Australia.

The program follows the model set out by the City of Melbourne, where upgrades to buildings could be finances through the council.

The current announcement expands this model to NSW and SA through the Sustainable Australia Fund.

Businesses will be able to take out a low cost, long term loan to pay for upgrades to their building. The program is accessible for owners of commercial and non-residential buildings. ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, outlined how the program will benefit businesses.

“This project will help to support businesses to reduce emissions, find alternative energy sources and help to understand barriers in the uptake of renewables in the agricultural, commercial and industrial sectors,” he said.

The current announcement aims to remove administrative burdens for councils, enabling easy and quick access to finance for businesses, said Scott Bocskay, CEO of the Sustainable Australia Fund.

“We created Better Building Finance to address a gap in the market – to help councils offer this finance and administer it for them. With ARENA’s support, we can expand this service and help more businesses access this finance and unlock utility bill savings while also becoming more sustainable.”

Ensuring the longevity of the outcomes of program such as this was also the topic of a separate ARENA announcement on December 11, with the Agency announcing $15 million in funding for solar panel recycling and efficiency research.

The funding aims to resolve what happens to solar panels when they reach the end of their life, through better design, greater recovery of materials, and the use of recycled components in new panels. The research will not only benefit producers of solar panels, but users as well, noted Millar.

“More efficient and lower cost solar PV can underpin the growth of a renewable hydrogen industry, can drive the electrification of transport and industrial processes, and can reduce the costs of delivering secure and reliable renewable electricity.”