A new $100 million fund is set to accelerate the rate of investment in Australian agriculture, with a focus on improving on-farm sustainability and energy efficiency.
The Australian Government’s green bank – the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) – has partnered with the agricultural arm of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) to invest in projects that will lower on-farm emissions through the use of precision agriculture technologies and improved on-farm practises.
The fund will invest in a range of agricultural sub-sectors including grains and permanent plantings, with a view to improve on-farm energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. According to the CEFC, project merit will be determined by its ability to improve the energy efficiency of production and associated financial and environmental gains.
The CSIRO has also been named as a partner in the collaboration, offering scientific expertise and sharing information about clean energy farming methods amongst the wider agricultural community.
The investment indicates a strong commitment by the Australian Government in relation to energy efficiency in agriculture, which is responsible for 13% of the nations greenhouse gas emissions.
About the CEFC
The CEFC is a corporate government entity, created by the Australian Government under the Clean Energy Finance Corporation Act 2012 to increase the flow of money into clean energy projects.
The development of the CEFC included the provision of $10 billion in funding for the initial five-year term. To date, funds have been invested in projects including solar, wind, bioenergy, community housing, infrastructure, manufacturing and resources and climate bonds.
The provision is also used to fund dedicated programs mandated by the Australian Government including the Clean Energy Innovation Fund ($200 million), the Reef Funding Program ($1 billion) and the Sustainable Cities Investment Program ($1 billion).
Finance options include project finance, equity finance, corporate loans and aggregation finance, where $3 of privately secured investment is matched by $1 of CEFC funds.
Despite reporting a profit of 7% in 2013, the Abbot Government attempted to abolish the CEFC, but the legislation was blocked in the Senate. In response, Tony Abbott banned the green bank from investing in wind power and rooftop solar projects – a decision that was later reversed by Malcolm Turnbull.
CEFC’s 2016-2017 annual report revealed the fund abated 7.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (C02e) in 2017 alone. Across the life of the projects, this equated to 121 million tonnes of abated C02e.