News & Analysis

Government launches $20 million Clean Energy Seed Fund to combat climate change

- September 2, 2016 3 MIN READ
Clean Energy Seed Fund

Federal Minister for Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg has today announced the launch of a $20 million Clean Energy Seed Fund (CESF) to invest in startup ideas developing clean energy solutions. The fund is part of a government initiative to combat climate change and deploy cleantech startup ideas over the next five years.

The CESF includes a $10 million investment from the Australian Government’s $1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF) and will be managed and employed by Artesian Venture Partners, who are opening up investment to fund between 30 and 50 startups over a four to five year investment period. The Fund has been designed to appeal to corporate, institutional, high net worth and impact investors who are looking to diversify their portfolios of Australian clean energy startups.

The CESF will be drawing upon the financial skills of both the Clean Energy Innovation Fund and also the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Both the Fund and Agency have a long history of working together and will provide an additional way to commercialise and innovate new investment projects.

Artesian managing partner Jeremy Colless said the CESF will target scalable and startups showcasing the potential of high growth to fuel Australia’s innovation in clean technology solutions.

“It will look across sectors such as the internet of things, energy storage, biofuels, alternative energy generation – solar, wave, geothermal, wind – metering and control, green building and biomaterials, transport technologies, water and waste.”

Minister Frydenberg made the announcement this morning to showcase how the Government is investing in smarter clean energy solutions and how it’s looking to startups for innovative and creative cleantech ideas.

Frydenberg is still new to the Environment and Clean Energy portfolio, which is a position that has caused some to question. Frydenberg has previously carried the nickname ‘Mr Coal,’ for his advocacy of coal and his echoing of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s belief that the mineral is “good for humanity.”

In an interview with the ABC Frydenberg said, “There is a strong moral case that the green activists sometimes don’t comprehend…Australia has a big role to play because we’re the second largest exporter of coal in the world.” However, Frydenberg also said that Australia can now start “moving away from coal and that is not a bad thing.”

From ‘Mr Coal’, Frydenberg’s new goal with this CESF is to create investment for affordable, accessible and reliable energy supplies as Australia moves towards a lower emissions future.

It is also worth a mention Frydenberg took over the portfolio of Environment and Energy from Greg Hunt, who is now Australia’s Minister for Innovation. In the past Hunt has also been criticised for his stance on green energy solutions and his responses to the Great Barrier Reef. In May this year Hunt tweeted “Under Labor, the Great Barrier Reef was on-track to be listed as ‘in danger’. It came off the ‘watch list’ under us.” However the ‘watch list’ still means under UNESCO that the Great Barrier Reef is not yet out of danger and the threat of climate change is still very real.

In a bid to combat climate change and foster a healthier relationship between Government and clean energy startups the CEIF was launched in July this year. This Fund aims to invest $1 billion over 10 years into innovative clean energy projects. Since the creation of this fund a focus into startups and solutions across Australia has been made to build a sustainable early stage clean energy venture pipeline.

Funds from CSEF will also be invested in other ventures sourced from the broader startup ecosystem including startups from incubators, university programs and angel groups.

Recently cities and even regional areas around Australia have started investing in the idea of cleantech to create smarter energy solutions and progress into global markets. NSW’s Hunter region is well on its way to become a world leader in R&D for cleantech, with Newcastle now home to the Institute for Energy and Resources, the Australian Solar Institute and the Smart Grid, Smart City program.

The Newcastle region has demonstrated a great focus on solar field research and in turn has attracted investment from CSIRO to transition the city into one of smart tech and renewable solutions.

CEO of the Clean Energy Innovation Fund Oliver Yates said the new CESF will allow the government to accelerate investment across the clean energy sector.

“The co-investment fund model employed by Artesian Venture Partners encourages collaboration between a wide range of accelerators, incubators, angel groups and university programs along with the strategic and financial inputs of HNW, corporate, institutional and impact investors.

“This will ensure CEFC finance can be used to support innovation in energy efficiency, low emissions and renewable energy technologies that fit within our Investment Mandate for clean energy.”

Image: Oliver Yates. Source: Supplied.