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Property in the crosshairs, CEFC says in latest annual report

Photo by Lance Rima on Unsplash
Photo by Lance Rima on Unsplash

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) annual report has flagged sluggish improvement in energy efficiency in homes, and with property representing a substantial part of Australia’s emissions reduction challenge, this was an obvious area for further action, the report stated.

Overall the industry had “seized the challenges and opportunities offered by decarbonisation” this year, with the government-backed investor pouring a total of $2.3 billion into renewable energy projects in 2017-18, the CEFC said.

Industry commitment has happened despite the ”moving around” on climate and energy policy by the federal government, CEFC chief executive officer Ian Learmonth told ABC Radio on Thursday morning following the Wednesday tabling of the 2017-18 Annual Report in federal parliament. 

The investor claims to have committed $1.1 billion towards renewable energy, $944 million in energy efficiency, $100 million in transport and $127 million in waste-related projects in the last year.

The 2017-18 investments are expected to stop three million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent entering the atmosphere.

The CEFC’s activity was filling a gap left by private sector financing, and its role as an “interim” financier was helping to ultimately “crowd in additional private sector investment to support the sector’s continued development”.

Big trends for future investments include pumped storage and battery storage, Mr Learmonth told the ABC on Thursday morning.

Rising global electric vehicle sales also present an opportunity for Australia to provide the raw materials, such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and aluminium. 

Western Australia is already benefiting from soaring lithium prices caused by skyrocketing demand. The production of WA spodumene (hard rock lithium concentrate) increased from 400 tonnes to 1700 tonnes between 2016 to 2017. This amounts to $800 million in value, according to the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. 

Beyond renewables, the report pointed to progress and challenges for the property sector’s clean energy transition. 

Improvement in energy efficiency in homes was sluggish, with residential energy consumption per person declining by an average annual rate of 0.8 per cent over the past decade, and by 1.1 per cent on a per-dwelling basis. 

“With property representing a substantial part of Australia’s emissions reduction challenge, this is an obvious area for further action,” the report stated.

It’s not all bad for the property sector. There’s been growth in the number of new projects certified under the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star rating scheme. The Green Star certified rating of buildings has also continued to rise, from an average of 4.6 to 5.1 stars over the past decade.

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