The City of Melbourne hopes that a new solar funding scheme will enable it to meet the goal of deriving 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2018.

Businesses in Melbourne can now access financing deals that cover the full capital costs of installing solar power via an innovative new funding scheme designed to foster the uptake of renewable energy.

The Sustainable Melbourne Fund’s new Solar Finance deal provides 100 per cent finance to both the tenants and property owners of small and medium-sized businesses, with repayments made on a quarterly basis via council rates.

The scheme is designed to help small-scale entrepreneurs situated in Melbourne install solar power facilities as quickly as possible, providing companies with profit boosts and property owners with capital gains.

The first two businesses to avail themselves themselves of the financing deal – Cooking Space and Covertel, indicate that they expect to drastically reduce their utilities costs via the deal.

Cooking Space opted for a 30 kilowatt system, which is roughly 15 times the size of the average residential solar facility. The installation is expected to cut down on the company’s energy costs by as much as $9000 per year.

According to Cooking Space owner Eric Lim these savings on energy costs are ample enough to cover repayments, meaning that raising the company’s sustainability chops had no adverse impact on its bottom line.

Hydrogel fuel cell manufacturer Coverstel installed a 9.7kW solar facility, which it expects to achieve a reduction in energy costs of 74 per cent, equivalent to savings of at least $3500 per year.

In addition to lightening the utilities bills of both businesses, the owners of the buildings where the solar systems were installed, Two Brothers Legacy and Kivaro Group, have also seen an increase in the capital value of their property assets.

While the program is currently only available to business situated within the City of Melbourne, the Sustainable Melbourne Fund hopes to soon expand it to other localities.

The Sustainable Melbourne Fund is an initiative of the Melbourne City Council established in 2002 to support projects that create both economic and environmental benefits.

The City of Melbourne expects the new solar financing scheme, which was officially launched on December 9, to contribute significantly to the goal of deriving 25 per cent of municipal electricity from renewable energy sources by 2018.