GREEN DEALS: Fluctuating fortunes

Bidders for the Boco Rock wind farm raise their heads, Pac Hydro flags progress in Portland, Origin opts out of wind for a while, Bosch exits solar and Suntech has more problems.

Suntech Power

In the last Green Deals column we discussed why Suntech’s day of reckoning was fast approaching – and now it has well and truly arrived, with the former darling of the solar sector and multi-billion dollar firm declaring bankruptcy. The latest development, however, could prove a bigger blow to the company’s founder – ‘Sun King’ Shi Zhengrong – than the bankruptcy itself.

The Australian citizen and former CEO of Suntech has reportedly been barred from leaving China pending an investigation into alleged irregularities in the firm’s accounts. Concerns largely centre on related-party transactions involving Suntech and a firm owned by Shi, according to the Shanghai Securities Journal. David King, the company’s current chief executive, is also required to stay in the country pending further inquiries.

Pacific Hydro, Keppel Prince

Pacific Hydro has flagged an intention to push on with the last stage of its Portland Wind Energy Project, according to The Standard. The company already has the first three phases of development at Portland operational: the 30 MW Yambuk wind farm, the 58 MW Cape Bridgewater and the 44 MW Cape Nelson South, with the latter finished in 2009.

In the wake of the government’s acceptance of the key recommendations from the RET Review, Pac Hydro said stage four – a 25-turbine development – may finally get the go-ahead.

“We’re really hoping to move the project forward into construction,” Pacific Hydro spokesperson Emily Wood told The Standard. “We’re keen to get building. We know that Portland is hurting at the moment.” 

The project will get its towers from local manufacturer Keppel Prince, which has been struggling as wind projects get delayed around the country.

Boco Rock wind farm

Continental Wind Partners is making progress in its bid to offload a stake of the Boco Rock wind farm, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

A buyer for at least 50 per cent of the project has been sought since late last year and, according to the report, a shortlist has been drawn up ahead of a decision late next month.

Among those reportedly on the shortlist are China Longyuan Power Group and Thailand’s Electricity Generating PCL.

Boco Rock in southeast NSW is expected to house 67 turbines in phase one and has planning approval for a further 65 more.

Origin Energy

Not a deal per se, but rather the lack of one in the near future.

Origin Energy boss Grant King has provided an interesting (to say the least) chart of Origin’s projections for wind build through to 2020. For some reason – its focus on gas perhaps – Origin is expecting no new wind build in 2016 with record amounts to follow in 2017 through 2020.

Graph for GREEN DEALS: Fluctuating fortunes

It means those companies looking for a power purchase agreement with Origin might have to wait a bit longer.

It’s a clear stalling exercise from Origin ahead of a likely change of government later this year. The company is then hoping the Coalition, upon another review of the renewable energy target (likely in 2014 – although legislation is on the way to extend this out to 2016), will happily scale back the target.

The RET will look a lot harder to achieve if the likes of EnergyAustralia and Origin Energy are unwilling to commit to new wind farms prior to 2014 – meaning any review might help them get their way.

EnergyAustralia

Speaking of EnergyAustralia (formerly TRUenergy), and the electricity retailer has seen the departure of its chief information officer on the back of some significant integration problems, according to The Australian. The report suggests difficulties in integration from when TRU took over EnergyAustralia have cost in the hundreds of millions, with some staff allegedly so fed up they’ve written to head office in China.

King Island wind farm

There is reason to doubt the prospect of Hydro Tasmania’s King Island wind farm proposal leading to development after the timetable was pushed back.

The massive – by anyone’s standards – 600 MW, $2 billion project hinges on community approval and given the consultation period has just been lengthened, this must be a worry.

Hydro Tasmania was hoping to progress to a full feasibility study in the first few months of this year but has delayed that while it works to appease community concerns.

Bosch

Manufacturing conglomerate Bosch has exited the troubled solar manufacturing sector after recording billions in losses.

The German giant entered the sector at the worst possible time – the peak, in 2008, when valuations had skyrocketed.

Bosch created its solar division on the back of majority stakes in Aleo Solar and Ersol, but simply was unable to make a profit out of it after the global financial crisis. An oversupply has crippled the industry ever since, leading to a new low for Bosch solar when the division lost around €1 billion last year.

"This is possibly the most painful experience that I have had to endure in my professional career," Chairman Franz Fehrenbach said in a frank statement to staff.

Bosch paid €546 million for a 50.45 per cent stake in Ersol back in 2008 and a further €50-100 million for a majority stake in Aleo in 2009.

Carnegie Wave Energy

In good news for the ASX-listed clean tech sector, a capital raising has gone off without a hitch. 

Carnegie Wave Energy managed to boost its coffers by $9.5 million after its retail offering was oversubscribed. The fledgling company raised $8.5 million through a share purchase plan with an additional $1 million through a private placement with “sophisticated investors”.

Algae. Tec

And finally, Algae.Tec, an ASX-listed algae biofuels business, has announced a memorandum of understanding with Australian engineering group WorleyParsons.

Details are a little sketchy, with the company simply saying that the MOU “establishes the framework by which WorleyParsons can support Algae.Tec in the future development of (its) projects.”