Australia's first fossil-free superannuation fund Future Super will partner with peer-to-peer lender RateSetter to provide loans for clean energy projects, including rooftop solar and battery storage systems.
RateSetter works as a peer-to-peer lending service, where anyone can provide funds that can then be loaned to households, or small-businesses looking to install a renewable energy system. Loan providers receive an amount of interest as the loan is repaid supported through savings achieved by the clean energy system.
While the installation of rooftop solar and storage can help households and businesses significantly reduce their energy costs, particularly as electricity prices continue to surge higher, the higher upfront cost can be a barrier to some households that would otherwise benefit from the savings provided over time.
Micro-loans, such as those provided by RateSetter, can be a means of breaking down this barrier, allowing for homes to install a renewable energy system, and use the savings from reduced electricity bills to pay back the loan.
Over $35 million in loans has been provided via RateSetter under the National Clean Energy Market program.
Future Super will work with RateSetter, making funds available to be used for loans provided through RateSetter's National Clean Energy lending market, effectively allowing the super savings of Future Super customers to support households installing rooftop solar and battery storage.
'Future Super's investment is the first of its kind and an extraordinary validation of our model's appeal to a broad range of investors. We applaud their leadership of their sector and would encourage more super funds to consider impactful investing.' RateSetter CEO Daniel Foggo said.
'Future Super and RateSetter are committed to empowering Australians to make rewarding financial choices that will benefit households, the economy and the environment.'
Future Super has established itself as a climate change conscious option for retirement savings and has amassed a portfolio with significant direct investments in Australia's renewable energy sector.
The fossil-free super fund has also made investments in large-scale solar projects, including through a partnership with the Impact Investment Group's Solar Asset Fund
'Superannuation is an incredibly powerful tool to help build Australia's renewable energy future. In fact, just 7.7 per cent of superannuation can get Australia to 100 per cent renewable energy
,” Future Super co-founder and managing director Adam Verwey said.
“At Future Super, we have strict ethical investment criteria that we follow when adding to our portfolio, and we choose options that we believe will produce superior returns for our members, while also positively impacting the environment. We're thrilled to be the first super fund to fund a peer-to-peer lender that is helping the sustainable energy revolution.'
RateSetter has previously signed deals with the South Australian Government and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to support the deployment of rooftop solar and energy storage systems.
RaterSetter serves as the administrator of the South Australian Home Battery Scheme program, which will see up to 50,000 households install a battery storage system, including options from Tesla, LG and Sonnen.
The CEFC has made up to $100 million available to finance loans provided by RateSetter helping to cover the upfront costs of the battery installations.
The partnership involving Future Super's commitment to investments in clean energy projects comes as superannuation funds come under increasing pressure to show they are using the funds they have under management to support ethical and socially minded investments.
Institutional investors are also facing calls to use shareholdings in climate change exposed businesses to take action, including a Market Forces resolution
calling on AGL to accelerate its transition away from coal-fired electricity generation.
Michael Mazengarb is a journalist with RenewEconomy, based in Sydney. Before joining RenewEconomy, Michael worked in the renewable energy sector for more than a decade.