GREEN DEALS: CBD's wind setback

CBD’s grand plans with a JV to control a third of Australia’s wind sector fall flat, Origin may be making progress in offloading Stockyard Hill and an eventful year continues at Yallourn.

CBD Energy, Taralga wind farm

CBD Energy’s ASX suspension will carry on for another few weeks as its accounts are re-audited to meet guidelines in the US, necessary for its Nasdaq listing. It is expected the company’s annual report will be released in a fortnight, at which point its stock suspension will be lifted.

In the meantime, the company has flagged an impairment of part or all of its investments in the Emerald and Bowen development joint ventures and in the carrying value of its graphite energy storage technology patents. It has also exited the much hyped AusChina Joint Venture, which was set up between CBD, Datang Renewable and Tianwei Baobian last year to develop wind farms in Australia.

The AusChina JV had grand plans to have a third of Australia’s wind energy market by 2019 and while it is not dead yet – the Chinese firms seemingly keen to continue – the likelihood of capturing a third of the market in such a short period appears remote. CBD, which had 23.75 per cent of the JV, said it would still work with Datang and Tianwei under a different business model.

CBD is confident its wind ambitions will not be thwarted by the JV exit, pointing to the signing of final purchase documents for Taralga wind farm as an example of what it can achieve on its own. Construction on the 106.8 MW project is due to start early next year, with completion in 2014. CBD now owns 10 per cent, with Banco Santander holding the 90 per cent majority stake. It was purchased from RES Australia.

Origin, Stockyard Hill wind farm

Origin Energy’s proposed sell down of its $1 billion Stockyard Hill wind farm in Victoria appears to be progressing smoothly, with five parties shortlisted, according to the Australian Financial Review. The company has been looking for a full sale, a joint venture partner or a turbine supply contract, the paper said, with a full sale seen as preferable due to capital constraints as a result of its massive Australia Pacific LNG project.

According to the AFR, the five parties are China Three Gorges, Goldwind, GE, Repower and Leighton, though it is not known if any of the bidders are working with other partners.

Stockyard Hill has approval for 157 wind turbines, with a capacity of just shy of 500 MW. If built now it would be the largest wind farm in the country.

Yallourn power station

EnergyAustralia has taken one of Yallourn’s four generators offline for an indefinite period, representing around 360 MW of capacity.

The Yallourn power station has had an eventful year, with first floods crippling output in June and then its owner failing to come to terms on a suitable compensation package for closure (as part of the now defunct contracts for closure scheme). The news is a sign of weaker-than-expected demand, the carbon price, the proliferation of solar rooftops and energy efficiency measures taking their toll on coal-fired plants and follows mothballing of coal plants in SA, Queensland and NSW this year.

Alinta

The South Australian parliament is to examine the viability of establishing solar thermal plants at Port Augusta. A grassroots campaign has been running for a while to replace Alinta’s two existing coal-fired power stations – Playford and Northern – and while both sides of parliament are on side, as well as Alinta, the issue remains one of cost.

For the go-ahead to be given it will likely rely on significant funding from the federal government, possibly through ARENA.

A123 Systems

Battery maker A123 Systems has filed for bankruptcy protection after a sale to a Chinese firm fell through. The collapse of the firm gave ammunition for the Republicans to once again criticise Obama’s clean energy policy, with A123 one of a number of companies to have failed after receiving backing from the US government.

Chinese group Wanxiang, a long time suitor of A123, will likely bid against US-based Johnson Controls in a court supervised auction for A123.

JA Solar

JA Solar is at risk of being delisted from the Nasdaq stock market in the US if its price remains mired below $1. The debt-laden Chinese solar manufacturer, one of the world’s largest, has until April 9 to get its price above the dollar mark and keep it there for at least 10 straight business days. In the troubled environment for solar manufacturers, that may be easier said than done.