GREEN DEALS: Solar slap

An update on Solar Flagship projects is unwelcome news for some, the Macarthur wind farm ticks off another milestone and CBD Energy hits all-time lows as Mark Vaile announces his departure.

Solar Flagships

As discussed in Climate Spectator last week, Australia’s largest proposed solar thermal project is no longer on the table, with ARENA opting not to fund the Solar Dawn project in Queensland. The Areva-led development was always up against it after failing to reach financial close and then seeing the Campbell Newman-led state government back away from it. It is a shame to see its end given it was offering something new to the table in Australia.

The EnergyAustralia-First Solar JV has also been dismissed by ARENA, due to being too similar to the previously approved AGL-First Solar project. EnergyAustralia and First Solar had been confident in its merits given its likeness to the approved AGL project, but touting this similarity appears to have worked against them.

The bad news in large-scale solar came in the same week as some unwelcome news for small-scale solar.

Meanwhile, the Moree Solar Farm (FRV/Pacific Hydro) and Infigen Energy’s solar projects with Suntech remain on ARENA's table, likely in a revised smaller version than their original forms.

Infigen Energy

Infigen is hopeful on the ARENA funding, but at its AGM its chair Mike Hutchinson said it would still pursue solar regardless of the government body’s decision.

“We look forward to the outcome of (the ARENA) process, and we retain our confidence in the longer term future for utility scale solar PV generation in Australia. We look forward to developing projects in this area when investment conditions permit.

Infigen has commenced construction of its 200 kW solar PV and energy storage demonstration plant at the Capital Renewable Energy Precinct and expects completion this financial year.

Hutchinson said the facility will be the “first of its kind in Australia” and believes it will be the first solar farm to be registered in the National Electricity Market.

No decision has been made on timing of construction for the Capital 2 wind farm in the Capital Renewable Energy Precinct and the Woakwine wind farm near Lake Bonney in SA. Infigen said a commitment on the projects “awaits more favourable market, financial and capital conditions.”

Macarthur wind farm

Australia’s largest wind farm has achieved another key milestone: the installation of all 140 turbines at the site, according to The Standard.

The first turbines at the 420 MW Macarthur project in Victoria began turning on September 30, with joint venture partners AGL Energy and Meridian Energy declaring the billion-dollar project on track to be fully operational by early 2013.

CBD Energy

CBD Energy was back trading on the ASX early in November, after its suspension was lifted a month after it began.

CBD was placed in suspension while it sorted through its accounts, but the re-opening of trading was far from cheered by shareholders. The company now trades at an all-time low of 1.8 cents per share, down from 3 cents pre-suspension and well off its 52-week low of 10 cents a share.

Following its merger with Westinghouse Solar, CBD needed to update its accounts so it could trade on the NASDAQ stock exchange in the US. With this achieved, listing is expected in early 2013, while the merger will see a shake-up of the board. Former deputy PM Mark Vaile will retire as chairman and leave the board, while managing director Gerry McGowan will take over as chairman and Robert F Kennedy Jnr will join the board.

Australian Renewable Fuels, Wentworth

ASX-listed Australian Renewable Fuels Limited is set to purchase fellow ASX-listed group Wentworth Holdings. The deal will see Wentworth shareholders receive 5.70 ARfuels shares for each 1 Wentworth share. The off-market takeover by the biodiesel provider has been approved by the Wentworth board.

“This proposed merger enhances the financial capabilities of ARfuels, particularly as biodiesel facilities and sales contracts come on line for Picton and Largs Bay,” ARfuels managing director Andrew White said. “These sales contracts together with the introduction of low grade feedstocks including waste vegetable oils from throughout Asia, require working capital that will now be available.”

Geodynamics

Geodynamics has conducted the first open flow test for Habanero 4. It achieved a maximum production rate of 35kg/s at a flowing pressure of 29 MPa.

Geoff Ward, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Geodynamics, said it was positive news for the trial power plant in the coming year.

“This is the highest productivity result achieved at the Habanero location and confirms our view of the quality of the Habanero 4 well,” he said. “The results exceed those achieved at Habanero 3 which recorded a stabilised flow of 27kg/s after local stimulation and again confirms the high productivity and temperature of the Habanero resource positioning Geodynamics well for a successful trial of 1MWe Habanero Pilot Plant trial in the first half of next year.”

A second open flow trial will soon follow and following its completion, the planned major stimulation exercise will commence and is anticipated to be completed in early December.

Origin Energy

Bruce Morgan has been appointed to the Origin Board as an independent non-executive director and as a member of the Audit, Risk and Nomination Committees.

Morgan has been chairman of the board of PwC Australia since 2005 and in 2009 was elected as a member of the PwC Global Board. He retired from PwC on 31 October 2012.

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