GREEN DEALS: Geothermal activity

Geodynamics looks to recapture faith in the geothermal sector, while political manoeuvring continues over the solar hot water rebate and an Australian SME gets a boost from Microsoft.

Geodynamics

The geothermal leader in Australia has begun drilling the Habanero 4 well – its first well for three years – with an expected completion in around four months. The well is a pivotal one for the company, which has lost the buzz it had just a few years ago. Its shares are currently languishing at 15 cents, well off the $2 mark it surpassed in late-2007 and near its year-long low. It is of course not alone in the geothermal space, with many ASX-listed geothermal  companies trading at or near historical lows. But back to the well, and it is a potential gamechanger for the company, one that could restore confidence after the Habanero 3 blowout in 2009. For a long time great hopes have been held for geothermal and Geodynamics in particular, and the time has come for it to deliver.

Solar hot water rebate

The solar hot water rebate remains in the news, with the Opposition introducing a private member’s bill into Parliament to call for its reinstatement until June 30. Upon confirming plans to push ahead with the bill, the Coalition put pressure on the Greens to support it. The likelihood of the bill getting through appears slim however, as the Greens have no desire to team with the Coalition. Expect the Bob Brown-led party to push ahead with their exclusive relationship with Labor, one they hope will reap long-term gains, even if it's at the risk of a short-term loss or two. While the political posturing continues however, the industry is in a state of flux. The head of the Australian Solar Energy Society, John Grimes, said that Labor's move to abandon the rebate earlier than expected has already "led to a substantial reduction in sales."

** Since the writing of this article the private member's bill has indeed failed to pass through parliament, with Greens MP Adam Bandt siding with Labor.

FRV

Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), which is part of the Moree Solar Farm consortium in Australia, has teamed with private equity to assist with its global expansion.

Denham Capital will form a partnership with the Spanish-based group to contribute $190 million to new solar energy projects. “The partnership with Denham Capital will strengthen FRV’s ability to make investments in global solar markets, including Australia, South Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East,” FRV said in a statement.

The news could hint at a vote of confidence that Moree Solar Farm will again win the tender process for the first round of funding under the Solar Flagships program. The recent moves from within the Moree Solar Farm consortium – Acciona coming on board, Pacific Hydro signing a power purchase agreement – indicate strong faith that the project will move forward.

Carbon Systems

Australia’s CarbonSystems has announced a big win with Microsoft adopting its Enterprise Sustainability Platform software as its new global standard for environmental performance reporting.

The cloud‐based environmental and energy management software will be used by Microsoft in 600 facilities around the world.

“Carbon System’s ESP will enable us to efficiently collect, analyze and share environmental data, delivering new levels of understanding about the resources we use,” Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist at Microsoft, said.

The Sydney-based company won the tender ahead of a group of 30 companies.

Wasabi Energy

Wasabi Energy has made a further push into South Africa, purchasing 25 per cent of carbon asset management and engineering firm AAP Carbon Holdings.

AAP invests in clean energy projects that generate carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol, with its flagship project being a 17 MW cogeneration power plant at International Ferro Metals Limited.

“The interest in AAP represents an opportunity to accelerate the roll out of the Kalina Cycle power plant technology and to tap into local management, engineering and business expertise,” the company said in a statement.

Wasabi’s prior interest in South Africa stems from a Kalina Cycle power plant at ArcelorMittal South Africa’s Vanderbijlpark steel plant, which, if successful, will be followed by a 24 MW Kalina Cycle power plant.

The company indicated that further expansion in South Africa was on the cards.