GREEN DEALS: Silverton slow down

Australia's largest wind farm is on the back burner, with the construction date now pushed back until at least 2015; Mike Fitzpatrick makes a canny move on wave power and another solar firm bites the dust.

AGL, Silverton Wind Farm

AGL Energy’s massive Silverton wind farm appears likely to be put off until at least 2015, with the energy retailer non-committal on the timing of construction. It is a far cry from original plans held by the site’s former owner Conergy to begin construction as early as 2009/10. It is also a rather dramatic shift in timing since AGL acquired the development rights in March, when it said construction “could commence in 2013”.

"Silverton is a strategic and very important asset for AGL and it will be built sometime in the future," AGL’s General Manager of Power Development, Scott Thomas, told the ABC.

The company said construction on what would be Australia’s largest wind farm won’t begin until its solar farm in the Broken Hill area is built (which is part of the Solar Flagships program). The solar project is expected to be completed in mid-2015, with construction slated to start in 2014. As a result, Silverton appears years away from reality.

Project approval for Silverton was given by the NSW government in 2009 for the construction of 282 turbines, with concept approval granted for 598 wind turbines. Its projected operational capacity is over 1000 MW, but this will be reliant on infrastructure upgrades.

Carnegie Wave Energy, Mike Fitzpatrick and the Navy

Carnegie Wave Energy has a new major shareholder after Renewable Energy Holdings sold down its stake for a pittance. The off-market transfer of 53 per cent of its 21 per cent stake in the company was snapped up by a consortium of investors led by 88 Green Ventures, a Mike Fitzpatrick vehicle. The shares were picked up for 1 cent, well below the 3.8 cents the company closed at on Friday, the day of the announcement.

Fitzpatrick is the current chair of the AFL, and serves on the boards of Rio Tinto and Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. He is hardly a newcomer to the clean energy sector, having previously served as a director at Pacific Hydro from 1996 to 2004, among other roles, during his time at Hastings Fund Management – a company he founded.

All this is just background to the big news for the company however – the signing of a PPA for the Perth Wave Energy Project on Garden Island. The deal with the Australian Department of Defence will see Carnegie supply power to the base of HMAS Stirling, Australia’s largest naval facility. The news on Monday sent the shares soaring over 25 per cent, to 4.9 cents, making the Fitzpatrick buy look even more of a bargain.

Carnegie is hopeful of providing its first power to the grid from the project by the end of 2013.

Cloncurry Solar Farm

All is not lost for the Cloncurry Solar Farm despite the Queensland government’s funding backtrack placing the project in doubt. Ingenero, the managers of the project, are hopeful the newly created Clean Energy Finance Corporation will see the benefits of the $6.8 million 2.1 MW project in the Sunshine State.

"We're looking for two main things for the Cloncurry Solar Farm. One of them is investment funds, so the CEFC would be a perfect body to provide funds for the project," Ingenero General Manager Roger Whitby told the ABC.

The Newman government walked away from a $5.7 million Queensland government funding commitment in May.

Wave power

Nasdaq-listed Ocean Power Technologies and one of the world’s largest defence contractors Lockheed Martin are looking to develop a 19 megawatt wave-energy project in Victoria. The project is one of the largest wave energy projects announced to date, the companies said, and will be backed by a $66.5 million Australian government grant.

"Lockheed Martin's commitment to alternative energy and its engineering, production, and systems integration expertise will provide momentum to our Australia initiatives, where both companies see great potential for large-scale wave energy generation,” Charles Dunleavy, Chief Executive Officer of OPT, said.

OPT said it is pursuing power purchase agreements with local industry and utilities. 

Centrotherm

Centrotherm has entered administration, joining the long list of solar manufacturers to have done so this year. With the German company long rumoured to be in trouble, the news doesn’t come as a shock, but it does highlight the continued pressures on solar firms thanks to the lower prices stemming from the supply glut. How much longer will the shake-out continue?

You can follow Daniel Palmer on Twitter @Danielbpalmer.