Environment and climate

Distributed Solar

There are significant changes occurring in how the world generates and consumes energy; changes that are necessary to offset past and ongoing greenhouse gas emissions into our atmosphere.

We are all familiar with the ongoing fight to contain climate change. After three decades of negotiation, the concerted push for emissions containment and reduction culminated in the Paris Agreement, which came into effect in 2016 and has been ratified by nearly two hundred countries. Progress since that landmark agreement has been mixed and – as the 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report showed – it is now code red for humanity.

If Australia is to meet the emissions reduction targets being set under its evolving climate policies, it is clear that a large amount of capital will need channel into sustainable impact investments. Further, given energy generation contributes to more than two-thirds of global emissions, supplanting Australia’s largely coal powered electrical grid with renewable energy is one of the best mechanisms for impact capital to drive positive change.

Source: Department of Industry, Science Energy & Resources.

How do we address this challenge?

Of all renewable energy technologies, solar is the lowest cost and best understood, with a known impact profile.

Australia is also highly suited to the technology with:

  1. High solar resource – carbon payback for solar panels in most states is under two years (this is the time that panels must operate before they are neutral relative to their embedded energy from manufacture).
  2. Typically long transmission distances – solar is the only form of renewable generation ideally suited to co-location at most energy consuming sites, e.g. via rooftop solar. As a result, under a truly distributed model there are no transmission losses, which occur when energy is transferred via energy grids from centralised power stations.

Within solar, we have focused our decarbonisation efforts on the community and corporate sectors as they have experienced the slowest renewables uptake in Australia to date.

Across these sectors we believe we can drive the highest impact through:

  1. Educating community, commercial and industrial groups on the benefits of and pathways to decarbonisation;
  2. Ensuring solutions are available at scale so major businesses can access distributed solar;
  3. Providing off-balance sheet financing for community assets and businesses to build commercial-scale solar solutions; and
  4. Delivering and managing our energy assets to a best practice standard over their lifetime.

Our strategy focuses on partnering with the best Impact Partners at the asset level who have aligned missions and expertise. In rooftop solar, we partner with Solar Bay, one of the leading distributed renewable energy project delivery businesses and asset managers in Australia.

Our strategy with Solar Bay targets large commercial, industrial and government assets.

Waverly Gardens Shopping Centre, Victoria
Waverly Gardens Shopping Centre, Victoria

Impact achieved to date

Since commencing our distributed renewables strategy in 2019, CIM has financed 54 distributed renewable assets around Australia. We are proud to have helped assets decarbonise across 38 Local Government Areas nationwide.

Combined, these assets have generated 6,410,670 kWh of renewable energy, offsetting 3,202 tonnes of CO2 (the equivalent of planting 152,493 trees).