Green Deals: AGL's wind rush

AGL buys the rights to develop Australia's largest wind farm, the Torrens Energy board gets a shake-up and Petratherm outlines plans for its 'clean energy precinct'.

AGL Energy has bought the development rights to the Silverton wind farm in New South Wales for an undisclosed sum from joint venture partners Epuron and Macquarie Capital Wind Fund.

The Silverton wind farm, near Broken Hill, is one of the largest onshore wind farm projects in the world. It has the potential to have a 1000MW capacity, although stage one of its development will see the generation of around 300MW. It already has approval to build 282 wind turbines for stage one and concept approval for 316 wind turbines in subsequent stages.

The energy retailer, whose largest wind farm project to date is the 365MW Macarthur joint venture with Meridian Energy (in development and likely to be Australia’s largest when completed in 2013), said the purchase would fit in nicely with its renewable energy plans.

“This transaction demonstrates AGL’s ongoing commitment to developing Australia’s leading privately owned portfolio of renewable energy assets, in which we have invested $3 billion over the past five years.”

The significant renewable energy move comes just a month after its latest acquisition, that of the Loy Yang A power station in Victoria, the state’s largest and most greenhouse gas-intensive station.

Stage one of the Silverton wind farm is likely to commence in 2013.

Torrens Energy

The board turmoil at Torrens Energy, discussed previously in this column, has come to a conclusion behind closed doors.

The geothermal company, which is currently looking to branch out into other areas, has announced that Dennis Gee and John Canaris will be resigning as directors of the company, a move designed to appease one of its major shareholders – Deck Chair Holdings.

The company also said that Winton Willesee will come on board as a director, while Anthony Wooles, who only joined the board last month, will now serve as chairman.

Deck Chair Holdings, a company associated with Cygnet Capital’s Darien Jagger, had been seeking a general meeting of shareholders to force the removal of Gee, Canaris, Howard McLaughlin and David Eiszele as well as the election of Gabriel Chiappini and Winton Willesee to the board. The news singified a breakdown in the relationship between Cygnet and Torrens, as Cygnet had been the lead manager of the Torrens IPO back in 2007 and acted as underwriter to the company’s entitlement issue in September 2011.

“As a consequence of the (board changes), the requisitioning shareholder has withdrawn its request for the general meeting,” the company said in a statement.

Gee had served as an independent director of Torrens for five years and Canaris was the company’s managing director for six years until he stepped into a non-executive role in February.

Petratherm

Renewable energy group Petratherm has detailed plans for a 300MW wind farm as part of its ‘Clean Energy Precinct’, an area located 50km north of its Paralana geothermal project in the far north of South Australia.

The company said recent test results found wind speeds of up to 8 metres per second at a 100m height, offering the potential to sustain a 300MW wind farm.

Last December, Petratherm announced it was hopeful of combining gas, wind, solar and geothermal energy to supply renewable power to South Australia’s mining sector.

Petratherm Managing Director Terry Kallis said the testing could be a ‘game changer’ for the ASX-listed company.

“It’s still early days for the precinct but we remain firmly on track to combine new power generation facilities across gas, wind, solar and geothermal to eventually produce 600MW of reliable, competitively priced electricity to meet anticipated demand from large mining developments in SA,” Kallis said.

Gas and wind will be the main focus initially, with solar and geothermal to be added as they become more cost competitive.

Petratherm also said it was still in discussions with key investors from several large renewable energy companies for potential joint venture partnerships.

Silex Systems

Silex Systems subsidiary Solar Systems has commenced operations at its Bridgewater test facility, Australia’s largest concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) solar power station. The 500 kilowatt grid-connected facility in central Victoria is to be used for the testing of Solar Systems’ ‘Dense Array’ CPV solar conversion system, which the company says has the potential to reduce the cost of energy production from CPV technologies by as much as 20 per cent.

Eight dish systems have so far been successfully brought online, the company said, with another eight to follow over coming weeks.

The company is also constructing a larger CPV Solar Power Station in Mildura and is currently assessing expansion opportunities in the US and Middle East. The Mildura facility will be a 2MW demonstration plant after the first stage of development, before a 100MW expansion at stage two and a further 52MW after stage three of its development. Ultimately it will have up to 154MW capacity connected to the national grid.

To round off a big week for the company, Solar Systems was awarded a $2 million grant from the Australian Solar Institute (ASI) to assist with its work at the Bridgewater test facility. It was among a group of ten solar companies to receive $12 million in ASI funding.

Green Rock

Green Rock has raised $2 million through advisors Cygnet Capital. The allotment to ‘sophisticated investors’ was at the price of 0.5 cents a share. It’s clearly been a successful period for Cygnet – the raising presented it with a fee of 6 per cent ($120,000 plus GST) while it also had the beforementioned success in shaking up the Torrens board.

Cygnet Capital, or its nominees, will also receive 40 million options exercisable at 1.2 cents per share before January 31, 2015.

Alstom, Brightsource Energy

The CEO of French engineering group Alstom has said the company is open to acquisitions in the wind energy sector, but it appears likely it will stick to minor acquisitions in the near-term. The company has been linked to Gamesa of Spain, Vestas of Denmark and Repower of Germany, but distanced itself from that speculation, saying it would not chase ‘risky’ deals.

Alstom also agreed to purchase $US65 million in the Brightsource Energy IPO through a private placement, a show of confidence in a company it already has a significant share in (over 20 per cent post-IPO). Brightsource – whose flagship project is the Ivanpah solar field in California, a project that lists Google and NRG Solar as major partners – is seeking to raise around $A150 million in its IPO, which would value the company around $1 billion.