GREEN DEALS: Australian end for Better Place?

Better Place’s Australian adventure is on the rocks, for now, while a Chinese group clinches its second Australian wind farm deal. Elsewhere, Carnegie reaches a fresh milestone and Mark Vaile departs CBD.

Better Place Australia

Crisis-plagued Better Place electric vehicle group is winding down its Australian operations.

It was only in October that the Israeli-based firm hired its then Australian boss, Evan Thornley, to take charge of the company. But after he fell out with the board over strategy last month, a dark cloud was left hanging over its Australian business.

Now the company has officially said it will back away from Australia – and North America – to focus on the “core” Danish and Israeli markets.

“Consultations are underway with a view to securing an orderly wind-down of its non-core activities in North America and limiting any further investment in Australia beyond its current commitments,” Better Place CEO Dan Cohen said in a statement.

“We believe in the long-term potential of both Australia and North America and are enormously encouraged by the enthusiastic response we get from all our customers.

“Therefore we will keep exploring solutions which will enable us to keep our long term options with regard to those markets open.”

Better Place had big plans for Australia, highlighted by the picture still on its home page (see: below), but as Tristan Edis said a few weeks ago, it was probably a decade ahead of its time.

Lend Lease, ActewAGL and RACV have been among the biggest investors in the local arm of Better Place.

Oceanlinx

Wave power group Oceanlinx Limited is looking to expand in Europe and the US, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The Australian manufacturer of wave power generators is planning to raise $20 million, with Northern Ireland possibly the first point of call.

 “I have started discussions with the government in Northern Ireland and I intend to open an office in Belfast and appoint some local professionals,” Chief Executive Officer Ali Baghaei told Bloomberg.

“Another part of the money will be used for similar types of activity in the US where we have offices that we need to man.”

In Australia the company last year received government funding to test its greenWAVE device off the south east coast of South Australia.

Musselroe wind farm

Guohua Energy Investment has reached financial close on its Musselroe wind farm deal with Hydro Tasmania. The Chinese-based group reached an agreement with Hydro Tas last September to buy 75 per cent of the 168 MW, $395 million wind farm in Tasmania’s north, though it had been expected to reach financial close prior to the end of 2012.

The cost of the stake is around $90 million, according to a WSJ report.

Under the sale, Hydro Tasmania will provide operational, maintenance and administration services at Musselroe. It will also retain ownership of the land with the wind farm operating under a 30-year lease.

It was the second such deal between the two companies following a similar agreement on the Woolnorth wind farm.

King & Wood Mallesons acted as legal advisor and PwC acted as financial advisor for Guohua, while Herbert Smith Freehills and ANZ were the legal and financial advisors for Hydro Tasmania.

Musselroe is on track for completion by the end of June this year, with the first turbine installed last month.

Mark Vaile, CBD Energy

As flagged in September, Mark Vaile has stepped down from his role as chairman and non-executive director at ASX-listed CBD Energy. The former Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Nationals will be replaced as chair by chief executive Gerry McGowan, who was chairman prior to Vaile taking the helm in 2008.

Carlo Botto will join the board as a non-executive director. Botto is a former executive at CLP Holdings, which owns EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUenergy).

Carnegie Wave Energy

ASX-listed Carnegie Wave Energy has received a second milestone payment of $669,700 from the Western Australian government for the completion of the detailed design of its Perth Project.

The wave energy developer announced the completion in its most recent quarterly activities report, with the payment received this week. Carnegie will submit a claim for a similar amount to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in coming days.

Unleash Solar

Unleash Solar, a solar installer in South Australia and the eastern seaboard states, has shown signs that it’s heavy sponsorship focus may be catching up with it, with NBL team the Adelaide 36ers cancelling its sponsorship after problems with on-time payments. The company also sponsors Adelaide’s A-League team, but that outfit says it has had no such issues to date, so perhaps it is nothing to worry about.

Belectric

The green light has been given for German-based group Belectric to build a 5MW solar plant in Mildura. The company, which has its Australia operations headquartered in Moorabin, Melbourne, follows Silex Systems’ subsidiary Solar Systems in looking to capitalise on the vast solar resources in Victoria’s north-west.

It will be the company’s first solar development in Australia.

"It's … quite significant for the area. One thing I would add, it certainly complements the solar systems development at Carwarp (Solar Systems) and it shows we're developing into a solar hub in this region," the Mildura Development Corporation's Anne Mansell said according to the ABC.

Red Sky Energy

CSG group Red Sky Energy, which announced the acquisition of solar firm Soleir late last year has said the first phase of its first solar project should be constructed by June this year. The development is a 2MW solar facility in Dubbo, NSW. The project has enough land for a 4MW expansion, the company said.

Soleir is also looking lease or purchase a further 20MW tranche of projects in the state.

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