GREEN DEALS: Go solar Harvey

Harvey Norman makes a Westinghouse-powered push for solar domination, Petratherm maintains geothermal is its long-term focus despite positive wind tests and TRU’s Waterloo wind farm may be on the block.

Harvey Norman, CBD Energy, Westinghouse Solar

ASX-listed CBD Energy, which is set to take over US-based Westinghouse Solar, is already reaping some rewards from the merger, with the sale of 5 MW of Westinghouse solar panels to Harvey Norman. The record order for Westinghouse will see its shipments double from last year.

CBD, which has supplied Harvey Norman Solar for years, brokered the deal, which hinges on the Westinghouse technology getting Australian certification in August. The retailer said the power of the Westinghouse brand was a key to the deal.

The merger of the two entities in the third quarter will see CBD hold 85 per cent of the combined entity. Back in February, the Australian firm said the Westinghouse tie-up was part of its plan to develop a presence in the lucrative US market, but also noted that the Westinghouse technology offered opportunities for expansion in Europe and here in Australia – and so far the latter has proven true.

A deal with Harvey Norman is not only important for Westinghouse and CBD, but also a signal of intent from the retailer. Harvey Norman, upon announcement of the purchase, said it was keen to claim a market leading position in solar.

“In addition to supplying kitchen, bathroom items, hot water and air conditioning systems, we have established a solar business, which we believe, will be a market leader,” Alan Stephenson, Franchisee of Harvey Norman Commercial Division, said. “With Australian power pricing continuing to rise, we are continuing to see very strong demand for solar installations as we are already at grid parity.”

Petratherm

Preliminary testing at Petratherm’s Clean Energy Precinct has shown “good potential to develop up to 300 MW of high yielding wind power generation.” The research, undertaken by wind consultants GL Garrad Hassan, found that capacity factors would range between 33.2 per cent (good) and 42.8 per cent (excellent).

In an interview following the announcement, Petratherm MD Terry Kallis, who helped develop the first South Australian wind farm almost a decade ago, reiterated the company was first and foremost a geothermal company, but due to the slow development of geothermal in Australia, needed to develop a network connection with wind and gas first.

"The whole reason for the Clean Energy Precinct is about our geothermal resource,” he said. “You need to have at least 300 MW to make it economic.

“The first instance because of timing, because of the stage of development we are with geothermal, we see the best way to do that and to secure that network connection is via gas and wind. So that’s why this particular result is very important.

“What we are hoping to do down the track is develop our geothermal prospect into large-scale geothermal and then basically expand the network connection to a second stage of 300 MW. Once you have a network connection to a customer for the large resource we have then you can classify that as a reserve, it becomes monetised.”

“Our clean energy precinct is absolutely tied to us looking at the long-term term monetisation of our very large Paralana resource.”

TRUenergy, Waterloo wind farm

While rumours of a TRUenergy float continue to swirl – still focused on the likelihood of a late-November IPO unless market conditions deteriorate – the company has reportedly engaged ANZ to broker a sale or partial sale of its Waterloo wind farm.

The Australian said a full sale could derive as much as $300 million for the energy retailer. However, the Australian Financial Review indicated TRU would only pursue a partial sale and retain operational control. Either way, the offtake agreement with TRU should stay in place.

If TRU is to keep operational control then super funds would appear the most likely acquirers of a stake, but speculation of interested parties has yet to surface.

The news comes just a month after TRU announced a $40 million upgrade of the Waterloo wind farm, which will see its capacity rise to 129 MW from 111 MW. The project, near Clare in South Australia, became operational in 2010.

As for the TRU IPO, we might leave it alone until some firm details are in place. Months after rumours appeared as fact, we still haven’t heard confirmation from its Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed owners (CLP Group).

Contracts for closure

The federal government’s contracts-for-closure program has hit a snag, unlikely to broker a key deal to close Hazelwood power station in Victoria by the government's June 30 deadline, according to The Australian.

The program, a key plank in the clean energy future legislation, is supposed to result in the buyout (and consequent closure) of 2000 MW of coal-fired power. According to the paper, deals with Hazelwood and Yallourn are unlikely to eventuate before June 30, and without these, the 2000 MW target will be unreachable (it can be reached at a later date). No combination of the power stations rumoured to be in negotiations with the government can reach the 2000 MW without either of (or both) the large Hazelwood and Yallourn power stations being involved.

Quick takes:

-- Panax Geothermal has announced the finalisation of power purchase agreements for two of its geothermal projects in Indonesia. The two projects, Sokoria and Dairi Prima, are its smallest in the country. Panax owns 45 per cent of Sokoria, a 30 MW project, and 51 per cent of Dairi Prima, a 30-55 MW development. In both cases its JV partner is PT Bakrie Power. The company said the development was “a significant milestone” and “will be the key … to progress to finalising required project financing for these two projects.”

-- Toshiba is set to build the biggest solar project in Japan on the back of the push away from nuclear in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Toshiba made the announcement in a week when the Japanese government announced significant subsidies for wind and solar. The almost $400 million project will see several plants built with a total generating capacity of 100 MW. Symbolically, the development will be just 25km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

-- Siemens will supply and erect the wind turbines for New Zealand’s newest wind farm, Meridian Energy’s Mill Creek wind farm. The development will see 26 2.3MW turbines installed, enough to power 30,000 average New Zealand households. The wind farm could have a capacity factor of around 46 per cent, which is firmly in the excellent range.

-- Moving to the Iberian Peninsula, and investors in the world's first floating wind turbine are seeking EU funding to build five more off the coast of Portugal. Initial testing has been labeled a success – the pilot produced 1.7 GWh – but further development will not come cheap with each floating wind power generator costing around $A25 million, according to Reuters. Offshore wind turbines have traditionally been built in shallow water and attached to the ocean floor, but this development will see them float above deeper water. EDP, Principle Power, Repsol, Vestas, ASM and InovCapital are partners in the project, which could enter the commercial phase in a couple of years.