AGL announces plans for Liddell Power Station

9 December

AGL has today outlined plans for Liddell Power Station beyond its announced retirement in 2022.

The NSW Generation Plan proposes a mix of high-efficiency gas peakers, renewables, battery storage and demand response, coupled with an efficiency upgrade at Bayswater Power Station and conversion of generators at Liddell into synchronous condensers. The feasibility of a pumped hydro project in the Hunter region is being explored with the NSW Government.

Details of the plan, which was developed to align with the National Energy Guarantee, are attached.

Graeme Hunt, Chairman of AGL said: “This plan demonstrates that old power plants can be replaced with a mixture of new, cleaner technology, while improving reliability and affordability.

“Decisions for the investments are staged to enable flexibility to respond to the changing needs of the market and improvements in technology over the next five years,” Mr Hunt said.

The AGL Board has approved the commencement of efficiency improvements at Bayswater that will create more capacity without using additional fuel; ordering equipment to convert generators at Liddell to synchronous condensers; and the signing of contracts to purchase 300MW of generation from two new solar power stations to be developed by third parties in NSW.

An assessment of AGL’s plan found the replacement generation is more affordable at $83/MWh, compared with extending Liddell at $106/MWh.

The plan was also found to deliver reliable, dispatchable power for longer, due to a longer asset life of 15-30 years, compared with a Liddell extension of five years.

Independent analysis found an extension until 2027 would cost approximately $920 million.

The AGL Board also considered selling Liddell and determined that a sale would not be pursued as Liddell is currently needed to supply energy to its customers and will be repurposed to form part of its alternative generation post 2022.

In addition, as Liddell shares infrastructure with Bayswater Power Station – such as coal unloading facilities and water systems – separating it would require duplication of this infrastructure.

AGL has committed to its workforce it will not use forced redundancies when Liddell retires in 2022.

AGL’s proposed portfolio to replace Liddell will shrink its carbon footprint by 17.6%.

AGL provided seven years’ notice of the closure of Liddell to avoid the volatility in the market that has been seen from the sudden closure of other coal and gas plants.

Source: AGL

 

Maoneng Australia Group – portfolio update

9 December

New South Wales – Maoneng Australia [“Maoneng”], one of Australia’s leading solar PV developer and owner of renewable energy assets is expanding its NSW portfolio after securing key contracts with one of Australia’s largest electricity retailer – AGL Energy.

On 7th December 2017, Maoneng entered into a power purchase agreement with AGL Energy [“AGL”] to supply up to 800,000 MWh of renewable energy per annum for 15 years.

Maoneng’s Vice President Qiao Nan Han said the AGL contract, which underpins 300MW of solar PV power plants in NSW, is the largest solar energy supply contract ever signed in Australia.

The contracts will underpin at least two major solar farms in NSW, including the Sunraysia Solar Farm in Balranald.

“The Sunraysia Solar Farm will be the first of several solar farms which Maoneng will work with AGL to develop. We are pleased to have entered into a contract with AGL that provides certainty for renewables development and energy security,” said Qiao Nan Han.

The balance of the AGL contract will be allocated to the next most suitable project within Maoneng’s development portfolio in NSW. Maoneng will also consider the acquisition of suitable shovel ready projects.

“In the absence of bankable PPAs during a period of political uncertainty, we believe that the AGL contract sets us apart from the market. The second project underpinned by the AGL contract, the Midgar Solar Project, demonstrates our continuous efforts to transition Australia out of fossil fuel dependency. We remain committed to making a difference in the energy sector, one solar panel at a time,” said Qiao Nan Han.

Certainty and Energy Prices

Solar PV power plants are typically financed based on the certainty of revenue and cashflow. This can be achieved through a financial instrument between a buyer and a seller of renewable energy. The instrument provides the certainty that a fixed price for energy is agreed between the two parties for a long period of time. Once such an agreement is in place, the power plant will then have the certainty of revenue and cashflow required to be project financed by banks under a low risk investment regime.

Unlike fossil fuel generators which operate based on the periodic consumption of fossil fuels, renewable energy generators are designed and built with their lifetime supply of “renewable fuel” on day one. This in turn means that renewable energy generators tend to require large capital investments as they have up to 30 years of fuel installed in one go. The large upfront investment is typically amortised over a long period of time by banks and investors.

In a politically uncertain market, it is difficult for both buyers and sellers to put a value on renewable energy (or energy in general). This will typically lead to energy supply issues – especially amidst imminent closures of existing power plants. As the National Electricity Market (NEM) fundamentally operates on supply and demand, a lack of supply of energy will immediately translate to a higher cost of energy – which has been exhibited in the past few years and for the foreseeable period.

The cost of energy at any point throughout the day is determined by a bid stack. The stack is comprised of generators who are bidding to supply energy for any given period. Only the lowest cost generators which bid into the stack can dispatch and sell their electricity, but the price for which the entire volume is sold is determined by the highest price of the bid stack. As renewable energy continues to replace base load (such as coal), it is also critical to have economic peaking power plants that can finish the bid stack with competitive pricing. In the short term, gas will continue to play a critical role to compliment renewable energy, but it will only be a matter of time before large batteries start taking over that role.

More about the Sunraysia Solar Farm

The development of Sunraysia Solar Farm was first announced in May 2016, with the receipt of the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements in June 2016. Following six months of land, site, technical and grid interconnection feasibility studies, an Environmental Impact Statement [“EIS”] was submitted in February 2017. Incorporating stakeholder comments and inputs, the SSF was approved for construction in July 2017.

Sunraysia Solar Farm entered into a Memorandum of Understanding [“MOU”] with Decmil Australia for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction of the solar farm with construction expecting to commence in Q2 2018.

Rothschild has been appointed as Maoneng’s Financial Advisor. Investor Relations and lender enquiries should be directed to Rothschild’s representative on the following page.

Source: Maoneng Australia

 

NEW PROJECT – Wellington Solar Farm

First Solar’s proposed 174 MW Wellington Solar Farm has been placed on public exhibition by NSW Department of Planning & the Environment until 28 January 2018. Landowners’ consent granted for the project which will have an estimated capital investment value of almost $270mil.

The proposed site is located approximately 2km north east of Wellington, in western central NSW, within the Dubbo Regional Local Government Area (LGA). The extent of the solar array site is 316ha (excluding connection to the substation). The dominant land use onsite and in the local area is agriculture. There are a number of existing transmission lines within the area, which connect to an existing substation. An overhead transmission line passes through the main proposal site. The proposal would require an additional transmission line to connect to the substation, which would be overhead.

The proposed Wellington SF would comprise of the installation of a solar plant with an upper capacity of 174MW that would supply electricity to the national electricity grid. The key infrastructure for proposal would include:

- PV modules (solar panels).

- Single Axis horizontal tracking (likely) or fixed mounting frames.

- 30‐50 inverter stations with associated transformer.

- An onsite substation or substation within the existing Transgrid substation containing one transformer and associated switchgear.

- A 33kV, 132kV or 330kV transmission line to the adjacent existing Wellington Substation (100m).

- Energy Storage Facility (ESF) (Lithium‐ion cells).

The proposal includes an ESF, which will be constructed at the same time as the solar farm, or as part of a staged development within 5 years of the commissioning of the solar farm. Subject to economic and technical considerations, the ESF will comprise banks of lithium‐ion cells housed in powerpacks. The facility would have approximately 25MW/100MWh rated capacity. If the ESF is constructed outside the main construction period, a specific traffic management plan, construction noise management plan and community notification procedure would be undertaken to manage any additional impacts.

Contact:

Mirjam Tome

First Solar

Tel: (02) 9002 7713

Email: mirjam.tome@firstsolar.com

 

Construction starts on $160 million Kennedy Energy Park

11 December

Windlab Limited (ASX: WND) today announced the start of construction of the first utility-scale wind, solar and storage hybrid generator connected to the national electricity network near Hughenden in north west Queensland, coinciding with a sod turning ceremony held today.

Kennedy Energy Park is an innovative 43.2MW Wind, 15MW Solar and 2MW Li Ion battery storage hybrid project. The site was identified and developed by Windlab Limited and is now owned by Kennedy Energy Park Holding Pty Ltd, a 50/50 joint venture between Windlab with Eurus Energy Holdings Corporation of Japan. The project will use twelve Vestas V136. 3.6MW turbines at a hub height of 132metres and 56,000 Jinko solar panels on a single axis tracking mount. The project is being constructed under a joint and several EPC contract managed by Vestas and Quanta.

Windlab will act as the owners’ representative during construction and will remain the operator of the project under a 20-year asset management contract. The project is expected to take around 12 months to construct and is scheduled to be operational before the end of 2018.

Windlab's Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Roger Price, stated at the ceremony that, "This is an industry first that will produce and feed clean renewable energy into the grid with much greater consistency and reliability from a combination of solar, wind and battery storage. It's also an important and valuable demonstration of how renewable energy can be used to cost effectively meet most network demand for power - day and night. We believe that this style of hybrid configuration will be increasingly used, particularly in remote locations and emerging markets, as the world transitions to a clean energy future. We are excited about the opportunities that the expertise gained from this pioneering project will present as we seek to replicate it across certain locations in Australia and Southern Africa.”

"The Hughenden site has an excellent solar irradiation pattern and exceptional complementary wind resources which continue to blow at night making it ideal for a hybrid renewable energy project. The matching of wind and solar will be vital for Queensland in achieving it 50% renewable energy target by 2030," claimed Mr Price.

"This is the first stage of what will likely become a multibillion-dollar investment program in and around Hughenden as this region becomes Australia’s leading renewable energy location with the completion of Queensland’s Clean Energy Hub, with "Big Kennedy" at its centre. Big Kennedy is the second phase of the overall project and will provide up to 1,200 megawatts of wind energy. The Big Kennedy project is located approximately 80Kms north of our existing wind, solar and storage hybrid generator project at Kennedy Energy Park. Big Kennedy will be a central component of the Queensland Government’s Powering North Queensland Plan. Big Kennedy is expected to be critical in balancing Queensland's solar generation as the state moves towards fifty percent renewable energy capacity.”

Source: Windlab

 

Councillors look at benefits of going solar

11 December

Enhancing Tamworth Regional Council’s environmental sustainability credentials will be among the outcomes Councillors seek to achieve tomorrow night when they look at options for installing solar photovoltaic systems at Council facilities to reduce ongoing energy costs and improve energy security.

A Council report giving an overview of a Solar Photovoltaic System Discussion Paper is among 33 matters on the agenda at the final Ordinary Meeting for the year.

It recommends Council investigate the viability of small scale or medium scale solar installations at its facilities where the energy produced is to be used on site and the findings detailed in a report to Council. It also recommends going ahead with the process to call for an Expressions of Interest to install a large scale solar facility where energy produced is exported to the National Electricity Market.

The report comes after Council engaged consultants GHD earlier this year to produce a Solar Photovoltaic Systems Discussions Paper to guide Council’s development of a financially viable strategy for implementing solar at Council facilities.

The discussion paper looked into all aspects of the issue including Council’s current energy usage and costs, future expected increases in energy prices, the set-up cost of solar photovoltaic systems and the rebates currently offered by the Australian Government under its Clean Energy Regulator Scheme (Small-scale Technology Certificates or STCs and Large-scale Generation Certificates or LGCs) which are due to end in 2030.

Tamworth Regional Council Sustainability Officer, Tim Hurcum, said the discussion paper has identified three potential solar opportunities for Council to consider.

“The discussion paper provides a great understanding of the solar market including available rebates and Power Purchase Agreement models involving third party developers,” he said. “It also shows a strong financial business case can underpin solar projects and looks at how to maximise potential income, how to fund up-front construction costs and how expected changes to rebate schemes may have an impact.

“Importantly, the discussion paper recommends Council take a timely approach and install solar photovoltaic systems while the full financial benefit of the energy certificate rebate scheme is in place.’’

The Council report said possible small scale solar installations on Council sites will be assessed in house. If Councillors decide to proceed with an Expression of Interest for a larger solar installation, the Council report recommends engaging GHD to prepare the necessary documents and to review submissions with the cost funded equally from Council’s Water and Wastewater Reserves.

Source: Tamworth Council

 

Contracts in place for power station build

11 December

Expansion of Top Energy’s Ngawha Geothermal Power Station will be one of the largest construction projects ever to be undertaken in the Far North.

With a total project value of $176 million, Chief Executive Russell Shaw says the addition of the new 28 megawatt power station to existing operations, will be game changer for Northland.

Once completed in 2021, the capacity at the power station will be increased to 53 megawatts; which, Mr Shaw says, will radically improve the security and reliability of the power supply for the whole Northland region.

“Our reliance on the National Grid which transports power from the south, will be substantially reduced,” he says.

“Ultimately, expansion of the Ngawha power station could secure the region’s energy independence, with clear benefits for local consumers by providing a renewable and lower cost source of generation and power.”

Mr Shaw, says with recent major transaction approval from the Top Energy Consumer Trust and Top Energy Board, separate contracts are now being awarded for civil engineering, drilling services, and power plant design and manufacture.

The civil works involved in the expansion is massive.

“Over 700,000 cubic meters of dirt will be excavated over three summer periods from October to April, with completion of civil works in 2020”.

The Execution of this work has been awarded to New Zealand owned local company United Civil Construction, which has been undertaking enabling works since October.

Mr Shaw says the company has extensive earthworks experience and has worked on some of Northland’s largest industrial infrastructure builds and upgrades such as the Whangarei Sewerage Scheme Stage 3, civil works at Northport’s Deep Water Port and roading projects such as the Kamo Bypass Stage 2 and more recently the SH1 Brynderwyn Safe System Project.

United Civil is responsible for constructing the platform for the new power station, forming the drilling pads for the geothermal production well and reinjection of geothermal fluid back into the geothermal field, as well as other associated civil works.

With a permanent base in Whangarei, Mr Shaw says that United Civil will largely draw upon a Northland based workforce, creating employment opportunities and contributing to the local economy.

United Civil and its subcontractors currently employ six local workers and are actively recruiting for foremen, experienced plant operators and keen labourers.

For the other two contracts, Top Energy looked off shore to deliver the best value for the project.

Iceland Drilling, with decades of experience in the field of geothermal drilling, including the Ngatamariki geothermal power station near Taupo, will send a specialist team and be based in Northland for one year from April 2018.

Israeli geothermal plant construction experts ORMAT have the contract to design, build and supply the power station which will commissioned in 2021.

Ormat has a long history with the operations at Ngawha supplying the original 10 megawatt power station, which was commissioned in June 1998 and then expanded to 25 megawatts in 2008.

Ormat management were in New Zealand for the signing of the contract in Kerikeri on 8 December.

Source: Top Energy

 

Flinders Hybrid Energy Hub

11 December

The Flinders Island community can look forward to a secure and cleaner energy future thanks to its new Hybrid Energy Hub.

Officially launched today, the hub will transform the island’s power supply and provide another exceptional renewable showcase for remote communities around Australia and the world.

Flinders Island has historically been dependent on diesel generation. The hub technology will make it 60 per cent renewably-powered, on average, using wind and solar. When there’s enough wind and sunshine to do so, the island will be 100 per cent renewably-powered for considerable periods of time.

The CEO of Hydro Tasmania, Steve Davy, said the result is less diesel usage, lower energy production costs, lower emissions, and a further boost for Flinders’ clean and sustainable reputation.

“This is Tasmanian innovation bringing clean energy to isolated communities,” Mr Davy said.

“The Flinders Island Hybrid Energy Hub gives islanders a secure and cleaner future – consistent with the community’s vision of becoming permanently 100 per cent renewable in the future.

“We take pride in supporting Tasmanian communities and a clean, sustainable energy future – both at a big-picture and grassroots level,” he said.

The Flinders Hub is able to harness more renewable energy from a 900 kilowatt (kW) wind turbine and 200 kW solar array by using unique enabling technologies and an advanced control system that will manage the fluctuating mix of wind, solar and diesel power in a stable, secure and reliable way - as proven in previous projects on King Island, at Coober Pedy, and on Rottnest Island.

The enabling technologies on Flinders include a 750 kilowatt / 266 kilowatt-hour battery, an 850 kilovolt-ampere flywheel, and a 1.5 megawatt dynamic resistor.

The $13.38 million Flinders Island Hybrid Energy Hub project was made possible by support of $5.5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Source: Hydro Tasmania

 

Genex appoints UGL as preferred EPC contractor for the 270mw Kidston Solar Two project

12 December

Genex Power Limited (ASX: GNX) (Genex or Company) is pleased to provide an update in relation to the development of the 270MW Kidston Stage 2 Solar project (K2-Solar) at Kidston, North Queensland. The K2-Solar project is part of the overall Kidston Stage 2 (K2) project, which includes a co-located 250MW hydro pumped storage project (K2-Hydro).

Following engagement with a number of leading EPC contractors, Genex has appointed UGL as its preferred Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contractor for the K2-Solar project. UGL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Australian publicly listed company CIMIC Group Limited (ASX: CIM), which is a world-leading infrastructure, mining, services and public private partnerships group. UGL was also engaged by Genex as EPC contractor for the 50MW Kidston Solar One project (KS1), which commenced generation on schedule and within budget earlier this month (refer ASX announcement 4 December 2017).

As part of an Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) process, Genex will work with UGL to finalise an EPC contract that reflects the most cost-effective and time-efficient solution, taking account of the extensive learnings gained during the construction of KS1. The ECI process for K2-Solar aligns with the procedure currently underway for the K2-Hydro project (refer ASX announcement 23 October 2017).

Genex intends that the combined Kidston Stage 2 project will be the subject of a single project financing, with individual EPC contracts for K2-Solar and K2-Hydro designed to take advantage of the specialist expertise and experience that each party can offer individually.

Commenting on UGL’s appointment, Genex Managing Director Michael Addison stated:

“UGL has been selected as preferred EPC contractor for K2-Solar based on its strong delivery performance for KS1, which commenced generation on schedule and within budget earlier this month. Since the appointment of UGL as EPC Contractor for KS1 in December 2016, UGL has expanded its project portfolio in Australia to become one of the leading contractors for large-scale solar projects.

We will work closely with UGL over the coming weeks to finalise an EPC contract that will allow K2-Solar to be built within our proposed budget and timeframe, replicating the successful KS1 partnership”.

The Federal Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), has provided $8.9 million in funding to support the construction of Genex’s KS1 project, and up to $9 million in funding to support the development of K2-Solar and K2-Hydro.

The Queensland State Government has continued to support the development of the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub, providing a 20-year revenue support deed for KS1 through the Solar 150 Program, and designating the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub as ‘Critical Infrastructure’ to the State.

Source: Genex Power

 

Third round open for new energy technology projects

12 December

The Andrews Labor Government today opened the third round of the New Energy Jobs Fund for new energy technology projects to encourage the uptake of renewable energy and reduce emissions.

Round three of the New Energy Jobs Fund program will offer a total of up to $3 million, with grants of between $20,000 and $1 million available.

The program is designed to assist community and business needs, with a focus on funding projects which will deliver significant community benefits.

Round three will have separate streams for new energy technology community and industry applications with categories that focus on manufacturing, technology, sustainable transport, community and skills.

Round one closed in March 2016, with 24 successful projects and funding of $5.9 million. Round two closed in March 2017, with 21 projects and funding of $6.8 million. The New Energy Jobs Fund is an initiative of the $200 million Future Industries Fund.

The Government also announced the opening of the Expression of Interest stage of a $10 million Microgrid Demonstration Initiative.

Grants of between $100,000 and $5 million will be available to facilitate and implement state-wide microgrid demonstration projects, with the aim of unlocking clean energy microgrid markets in Victoria.

The Expression of Interest is seeking to identify projects and explore the range of potential microgrid solutions and will be followed by a Request for Proposal in 2018.

The funding aims to support a range of demonstration projects in different locations, building types, scale and business models.

Source: Victoria Government

 

Plug and play on the way for renewable connections

13 December

A more consumer-friendly approach to connect renewables to the grid is the ambition of the new suite of guidelines being developed by Energy Networks Australia.

Standardising and streamlining the connection of next generation technology has been identified as a key priority by networks, customers and industry stakeholders.

The Distributed Energy Resources National Connection Guidelines will provide a consistent set of protocols to connect and integrate a range of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) with Australia’s electricity networks.

Energy Networks Australia’s CEO Andrew Dillon said that better facilitating customer owned resources into the grid is essential.

“The Electricity Network Transformation Roadmap finds that almost two-thirds of customers will have distributed energy resources by 2050 and network service providers could buy grid support in a network optimisation market worth $2.5 billion per year.

“However, the Finkel Review identified a number of challenges associated with integration of DER, which will require modernised connection standards and uniform control mechanisms to strengthen system security,” Mr Dillon said.

”Our guidelines aim to enable the modern energy grid for the community.”

The Finkel Review recommended development of Energy Security Obligations by mid-2018 that includes a holistic review and update of connection standards.

Energy Networks Australia will work with the Clean Energy Council and other key stakeholders to develop the Guidelines, enabling customers to connect to electricity networks and markets in a consistent way that improves grid efficiency and security.

”This project reflects our commitment to embed an efficient, reliable and affordable energy network for all Australians,” Mr Dillon said.

Distributed energy resources, such as large-scale wind and solar, battery storage and household solar, can help provide the electricity required to meet demand. As Australia’s electricity grid continues to modernise, these renewable technologies will facilitate the transition to a smarter grid.

Consultation with all electricity network businesses, consumer representatives and key industry stakeholders will take place in the initial project phase. A framework will be released by March, and further guidelines released from May through to December.

A briefing webinar will be hosted by Energy Networks Australia on Thursday 14 December at 2.00pm; to register, go to www.energynetworks.com.au/events.

Source: Energy Networks Australia

 

PROJECT UPDATE – Merredin Solar farm

Stellata Energy submits referral to federal Department of Energy and the Environment for its proposed 100 MW Merredin Solar Farm, east of Perth in WA. The proposed solar farm will comprise approximately 400,000 tracking solar panels and associated infrastructure. Approximately 44-48 Inverters will be interspersed throughout the panels. The proposed solar farm will connect via a 220kV cable back into existing Western Power infrastructure (Merredin Terminal) abutting the north-western boundary of the site.

The site will be constructed relatively quickly, taking approximately 9-12 months from site setout and installation of welfare facilities. Up to 200 people will be employed during the peak construction period, occurring approximately half way through the construction phase. Stellata will appoint a contractor to construct and install the facility. The contractor will be responsible for all items relevant to construction and for adherence to all approvals and relevant standards. Construction will possibly be in up to two phases. The generation equipment will all be constructed in one campaign, with the battery storage to possibly be delayed until a subsequent stage. The proposal is open for public comment.

Contact:

Troy Santen

Stellata Energy

Director of Development

Tel: 0430 066 715

Email: troy.santen@stellata.com.au

 

Comet Solar Farm approved

Hadstone Energy Pty Ltd are delighted that development approval for the 309 MWp Comet Solar Farm project near Blackwater in Queensland has been granted today by Central Highlands Regional Council.

Comet Solar Farm is a major infrastructure project that will help solve Queensland’s summer generation shortfall, producing 675 Gigawatt-hours of electricity in an average year.

Mark Love, Managing Director of Hadstone Energy Pty Ltd, said “Our project plan had all approvals coming through in mid-November, and RPS Planning and the council have together done a great job to keep this on track. Powerlink are due to issue Comet’s Offer to Connect next week, so now we can turn our attention to getting the solar farm built”.

Comet is due to commission on 30 November 2018. This timetable is challenging, but allows the project to make the fullest contribution to mitigating Queensland’s anticipated power shortfall next summer.

Details of the project are:

  • Total installed capacity: 309 MWp DC
  • Export limit: 235 MW ac
  • Modules: 909,720 x 340 Wp
  • Inverters: 114 x SMA 2,500kVA
  • Single-axis tracking with 7m row spacing
  • Connection at 132kV to the Powerlink network

Hadstone has been supported by a very able and proactive group of consultants and manufacturers, including:

  • Planning by RPS in Brisbane
  • Grid consultancy by GHD Hill Michael
  • Land legals for Hadstone by Herbert Smith Freehills
  • Corporate legals for Exebury Capital by Bird & Bird
  • Inverter modelling support by SMA
  • Array design by DETRA

 

RCR EPC and O&M contracts finalised for 88MWac Wemen and 75MWac Clermont Solar Farms

14 December

Diversified engineering and infrastructure company RCR Tomlinson Ltd (ASX: RCR), is pleased to announce that it has received a notice to proceed for the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) and Operation and Maintenance (“O&M”) for the 75MWac Clermont Solar Farm and the 88MWac Wemen Solar Farm, being developed by international renewable energy company, Wirsol Energy Ltd (part of the WIRCON Group).

As announced on 13 November 2017, RCR’s EPC and O&M contracts for these projects are valued at approximately $260 million.

With the EPC and O&M contracts now executed and a notice to proceed received, RCR will commence construction activity immediately on these two large-scale solar farm projects.

The Clermont Solar Farm is located in Rockhampton, Northern Queensland and the Wemen Solar Farm is located in Wemen, Victoria.

RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish said “We look forward to a long relationship with Wirsol who are a leading project developer of sustainable energy projects and one of the largest developers of utility-scale solar projects in Australia with over 335MWac currently under construction.”

Source: RCR Tomlinson

 

Wirsol Energy PTY Ltd. Announces construction of a further 199MWp of Solar Projects in Australia

14 December

  • Wemen Solar Farm, Victoria – 110MWp DC
  • Clermont Solar Farm, Queensland – 89MWp DC

Wirsol Energy Pty Ltd (WIRSOL), today announces that it has reached financial close for the construction of the Wemen Solar Farm in Victoria and the Clermont Solar Farm in Queensland. The projects are being financed on a fully merchant basis with a long-term debt facility from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and equity provided from WIRSOL’s parent WIRCON, headquartered in Germany.  Both projects have been contracted to RCR Tomlinson for the EPC buildout and longer-term O&M contracts, with asset management contracted to CWP Renewables.  The financial adviser in closing the debt was Elgar Middleton LLP, legal advice for the WIRSOL group via Norton Rose Fulbright and technical advice via RINA Consulting.  Wemen Solar Farm was acquired from Overland Sun Farming in November 2017 and Clermont Solar Park was acquired from Epuron just prior to financial close.

Wemen Solar Farm and Clermont Solar Farm represent an overall investment of circa AU$375m and follows on from the previous three projects WIRSOL announced in March 2017 of a similar fiscal investment of circa AU$380m. The Wemen and Clermont projects will commence construction in January 2018 and are scheduled for connection to grid during Q3 2018. These two projects, combined with the three WIRSOL projects currently under construction – the Whitsunday, Hamilton and Gannawarra Solar Farms – position WIRSOL Energy Pty Ltd as the leader in solar power within Australia. The CEFC has provided debt finance for the five WIRSOL projects, reflecting its commitment to accelerate the development of large-scale solar in Australia.

Mark Hogan, Managing Director of WIRSOL commented: “I am delighted that WIRSOL is now firmly positioned as the leading fully integrated investor / owner / developer of solar farms in Australia. Sustainable Energy Research Analytics (SERA) recently provided an insight into the solar market which indicates that we have circa 20% market share. Whilst we do not drive ourselves on market share, as we have an internal goal of deploying 1GW of solar by 2020, it is nevertheless encouraging that we are making such traction in relatively short timelines.  I am delighted with the team that we have built at our offices in Manly, Sydney, which has significantly grown, doubling its Australian workforce in 2017. We have exceptional legal, financial and technical partners, and the CEFC along with Nord LB, CBA and ARENA, have all been hugely supportive of our business.  We plan on continuing our success with the next five large-scale solar projects totalling 470MWp that are in development with our joint venture partner, Renew Estate.”

Peter Vest, Managing Director of WIRCON declared: “The evolving Australian team has grown significantly in recent months to be one of the most diverse and knowledgeable in Australia. We have great partnerships that continue to go from strength to strength which, coupled with the unique capital arrangements within the group, prove to be a powerful recipe for success. As we move forward we will continue to evaluate ways in which to provide long-term sustainable investment platforms for our shareholders, whilst mitigating longer-term foreign exchange risk. The next 2-3 years within WIRCON and WIRSOL are set to be challenging but hugely exciting.”

Bill Calcraft, Non-Executive Director of WIRSOL Energy Pty Ltd states: “Adding these two projects of 199MWp to our existing portfolio highlights the significant movement we have had on the Australian solar industry to date. The team here in Australia have accomplished major achievements since our entry earlier this year with no evidence of the WIRSOL movement slowing down. As 2017 ends on a hugely positive note, we are set to enter an ambitious 2018 with an impressive pipeline.”

CEFC Large-Scale Solar Lead Monique Miller said: “The CEFC is delighted to work alongside WIRSOL as it increases its investment in large-scale solar projects. These projects are contributing to the ongoing development of Australia’s critical energy infrastructure. We are pleased our commitment of $207 million as sole debt financier to the Wemen and Clermont solar farms will enable WIRSOL to begin construction on the two projects as early as January 2018, while the company continues to secure offtake agreements.”

Source: Wirsol

 

Origin to halve emissions in line with Paris 2°C goal

14 December

Origin Energy Limited (Origin) has committed to a company-wide 50 per cent reduction in absolute scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 20321, becoming the first Australian company to have science-based targets recognised by the global We Mean Business (WMB) initiative.

Origin has also committed to a 25 per cent reduction in value chain Scope 3 emissions on 2017 levels over the same period.

Origin CEO Frank Calabria said, “This is a major milestone for Origin. We want to be leading the transition to a cleaner and smarter energy future and we are proud to now have a tangible commitment for emissions reduction across our business.

“We have clearly set ourselves challenging targets, yet we are confident in our ability to achieve them having already laid out the five pillars that will provide a pathway for the decarbonisation of our business over time.

“Continuing to grow renewables in our portfolio is one of the key planks of this transition, as are the closure of our only coal fired power station, Eraring, in the early 2030s, increasing reliance on gas and giving customers the technology to use energy more efficiently in their homes and businesses.

“As Australia’s leading energy company, we’re determined to help achieve the smoothest possible transition to a cleaner and smarter energy future at the lowest cost to the households and businesses that rely on the energy we produce.

“We firmly believe decarbonising our business is not only the right thing to do by our stakeholders and the planet, it also presents opportunities to create value, and Origin is well positioned on this journey having prepared for a low carbon future for many years,” Mr Calabria said.

Origin confirmed earlier this year its intention to announce emissions reduction targets, consistent with its commitments to the WMB initiative. The targets have been endorsed by the international Science Based Target initiative (SBTi). SBTi is the only body authorised by WMB to verify targets mathematically to ensure scientific alignment with the Paris target of limiting global warming to 2°C.

Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions predominantly come from Origin’s generation business and other activities, while Scope 3 emissions are a result of gas purchases and electricity purchased from the pool.

“Setting a science-based target fulfils a commitment Origin made under the global We Mean Business initiative and we’re proud to commit to targets in line with a 2C world, solidifying our role in helping Australia reach its 2030 emissions reduction target,” Mr Calabria said.

“More can and should be done and we have also stated our belief that a long-term goal of net zero emissions for the electricity sector by 2050 is achievable.

“We will continue to work with governments on coordinated national energy policy on behalf of our customers, because it will provide the right framework and signals to help industry meet our climate change targets at the least cost to consumers,” Mr Calabria said.

1 On 2017 levels, excluding Lattice Energy which is being divested.

Source: Origin Energy

 

CEFC reaches 1GW solar milestone with finance across 20 large scale solar projects

15 December

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has reached a major investment milestone for large-scale solar development in Australia, with its latest two investments helping accelerate the delivery of more than 1GW in additional solar energy across 20 projects.

The CEFC today announced it had committed $207 million in debt finance to accelerate the development of 200MW of additional solar capacity across two WIRSOL Energy projects - the Wemen Solar Farm in Victoria and the Clermont Solar Farm in Queensland.

With these latest commitments, the CEFC has invested in 20 large-scale solar projects since 2013, becoming Australia's largest solar investor, supporting projects across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

CEFC Large-Scale Solar Lead Monique Miller said: "Increasing the amount of renewable energy generation in our electricity mix is essential for the Australian economy to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century. Our investment in large-scale solar continues to play a major role in accelerating Australia's clean energy transition, with CEFC finance helping to demonstrate the commercial potential of these investments in the ongoing development of Australia's critical energy infrastructure."

Ms Miller added: "The addition of more than 1GWp of new solar energy since 2013 equates to enough electricity to power about 375,000 average homes. While our solar investments represent just one per cent of Australia's total electricity generation, they represent a substantial reduction in carbon emissions, of around 1.8 million tonnes annually, making an important contribution to Australia's overall emissions reduction goals."

The CEFC has committed $110 million in senior secured debt towards the 110MW Wemen Solar Farm near Mildura in Victoria and up to $97 million in senior secured debt towards the 90MW Clermont Solar Farm 400km west of Rockhampton in Queensland.

The Wemen Solar Farm is expected to produce enough power to supply nearly 34,000 homes, while the Clermont development is expected to produce enough energy to supply nearly 31,000 homes.

CEFC transaction lead Niall Brady said "The CEFC's role as sole debt financier would enable WIRSOL to begin construction on the two projects as early as January 2018, before having secured a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the solar output.

Mr Brady added: "There is still a gap in investor appetite for projects that are in the process of finalising Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), which has the potential to delay construction. We are pleased to work with project proponents such as WIRSOL in helping to overcome these hurdles.

"Australia's large-scale solar market is maturing, and we are pleased to see growing interest from private sector financiers in refinancing projects once they are contracted and operational, because of the lower perceived investment risk.

"For a project sponsor, refinancing may offer the opportunity to borrow at a reduced cost once the project has a contracted revenue stream. The CEFC's role as an 'interim' financier is ultimately helping to crowd in additional private sector investment to support the sector's continued development."

WIRSOL Managing Director Mark Hogan said: "We see strong potential for renewable energy in Australia, and these two projects are an important part of our evolving large-scale solar portfolio. We have been delighted to have the CEFC work alongside WIRSOL as we continue to invest in these exciting developments. These projects are at the heart of our strategy to become a leading fully integrated investor, owner and developer of large-scale solar developments in Australia."

Finance for the Clermont Solar Farm is another example of the CEFC's focus on delivering clean energy solutions in the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area, as part of its Reef Funding Program.

Source: CEFC

 

Lightsource and BP join forces to drive growth in solar power development worldwide

 15 December

  • BP to invest $200m in Lightsource over three years for a 43% stake in the business
  • Lightsource is Europe’s largest solar development company, focused on the acquisition, development and long-term management of large-scale solar projects
  • Lightsource to rebrand as Lightsource BP
  • Combination expected to propel company’s continuing rapid expansion worldwide

Lightsource and BP today announced that they have agreed to form a strategic partnership, bringing Lightsource’s solar development and management expertise together with BP’s global scale, relationships and trading capabilities to drive further growth across the world.

BP will acquire on completion a 43% equity share in Lightsource for a total consideration of $200 million, paid over three years. The great majority of this investment will fund Lightsource’s worldwide growth pipeline. The company will be renamed Lightsource BP and BP will have two seats on the board of directors.

“BP has been committed to advancing lower-carbon energy for over 20 years and we’re excited to be coming back to solar, but in a new and very different way.“

Nick Boyle, Group CEO and founder of Lightsource, said: “We founded Lightsource to lead the solar revolution and chose to partner with BP because, like us, their ambition is to build and grow this company for the long-term. Not only does this partnership make strategic sense, but our combined forces will be part of accelerating the low-carbon transition. Solar power is the fastest growing source of new energy and we are excited to be at the forefront of this development.”

Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive added: “BP has been committed to advancing lower-carbon energy for over 20 years and we’re excited to be coming back to solar, but in a new and very different way. While our history in the solar industry was centred on manufacturing panels, Lightsource BP will instead grow value through developing and managing major solar projects around the world. I am confident that the combination of Lightsource’s expertise and experience with BP’s relationships and resources will propel this innovative business to even more rapid growth.”

Global installed solar generating capacity more than tripled in the past four years and grew by over 30% in 2016 alone, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. BP’s Energy Outlook analysis sees solar as likely to generate around a third of the world’s total renewable power and up to 10% of total global power by 2035.

Lightsource is a global leader in the development, acquisition and long-term management of large-scale solar projects and smart energy solutions worldwide. It has grown in just seven years to become Europe’s largest developer and operator of utility-scale solar projects. The company has commissioned 1.3 GW of solar capacity to date and manages approximately 2GW of capacity under long-term operations and maintenance contracts - the equivalent of powering over half a million homes through clean energy.

BP’s interest in Lightsource BP will complement its existing Alternative Energy business, which includes wind energy, biofuels and biopower. BP Wind Energy has interests in onshore wind energy across the US with total gross generating capacity of 2.3GW. BP Biofuels has world scale plants in Brazil, which produce around 800 million litres of ethanol equivalent per year as well as generating low-carbon power for Brazil’s national grid.

Lightsource BP will target the growing demand for large-scale solar projects worldwide with a focus on grid-connected plants and corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed with private companies. The company will continue to develop and deliver Lightsource’s 6GW growth pipeline, which is largely focused in the US, India, Europe and the Middle East.

The company sees opportunities to create additional value through integrating solar with BP’s other businesses and trading capabilities as well as through BP’s international scale and relationships.

Dev Sanyal, BP’s chief executive for Alternative Energy, added: “We see significant opportunity to offer affordable, reliable, low-carbon power solutions by integrating solar alongside our existing Alternative Energy and gas business. We see Lightsource as a strategic partner with a similar vision and, with the benefits of BP’s global scale and relationships, we together plan to build the global market leader for solar.”

Under the terms of the agreement, BP will pay Lightsource $50million on completion of the agreement, with the balance paid in instalments over three years. Completion is anticipated in early 2018.

Lightsource were advised by Rothschild, White and Case, Deloitte and Baker & McKenzie.

Source: BP

Editor’s note: Lightsource BP has a Melbourne office but no Australian projects under development we are aware of.