GREEN DEALS: Solar sunset?

Moves from Campbell Newman raise more questions for the Solar Dawn project, while Dyesol successfully completes a capital raising and may have more good news on the way.

Solar Flagships hasn’t quite shown its potential to be the glittering success the federal government had envisaged, with another setback this week, this time for the Solar Dawn project in Queensland.

Solar Dawn, run by Areva Solar and Wind Prospect CWP, is finding the new Queensland government isn’t like the old. Premier Campbell Newman is currently exploring the state’s legal options to extract itself from a $75 million funding commitment for the project. If he does so it, in itself, wouldn’t be the end of the world for the project, although it would create a significant funding hole. Comments from federal energy minister Martin Ferguson however – suggesting such a move by Newman would force the federal government to “reconsider its… position” – would no doubt be causing some concern.

The Solar Dawn consortium told Climate Spectator that as of yesterday morning, when news of the potential funding cut was ‘hot of the presses’, it had not been contacted by Newman or a representative of his office regarding the plan.

Newman’s view is the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program is a federal policy so should be paid for with federal funds. A conditional contract for $75 million has already been signed by the former Bligh government, so it is just a matter of how it is worded as to whether he will be able to extricate the state from such a commitment. For what it’s worth, Newman says the $275 million worth of green initiatives he is seeking to cancel (including the Solar Dawn funding) would not take place if the federal government repealed the carbon price legislation. Of course, a retreat from carbon pricing by Julia Gillard is about as likely as her appointing Kevin Rudd to the role of deputy prime minister.

With the other round one winner of Solar Flagships backing, the Moree Solar Farm, having to go through the tender process once again and Solar Dawn meeting resistance in its home state plus requiring an extension on its original financing timeline (to June 30), progress is not what the federal government had hoped. In a year’s time we might look back and say it was a blip on an exciting journey, but right now the whole Solar Flagships program is looking shaky.

Dyesol

Solar group Dyesol has completed a capital raising of $5 million to shareholders and institutional investors. The share purchase plan raised $3.9 million, while a further $1.1 million was snapped up by institutional investors at 18 cents per share. The company, which had planned a minimum $3 million raising which could have extended to as much as $6 million, last traded at 20 cents per share.

While a $5 million raising is hardly noteworthy on the ASX, Dyesol’s ability to operate as a going concern was questioned by its auditors at the beginning of this month (and not for the first time) – meaning $5 million is worth plenty. Further, the company indicated in yesterday’s announcement that significant developments could be just weeks away.

“The company … looks forward to reporting exciting developments in our world-class partner projects in the coming weeks and months.” Dyesol chairman Richard Caldwell said.

Dyesol has an impressive concept (Dye Solar Cell technology), but as the share price indicates, commercialisation isn’t coming easy. With funding now secured for at least another few months (it has been leaking around $3 million every quarter), some positive developments to get the share price ticking will be crucial before the next time comes to tap the market. All par for the course for an ASX-listed company trying to get new technology up in a challenging market.

Low Carbon Australia, FlexiGroup

The federal government-backed Low Carbon Australia and the ASX-listed FlexiGroup have announced a new initiative to provide as much as $100,000 in financing to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for energy efficiency upgrades.

The partnership’s ‘Energy Smart Finance’ program will allow businesses to upgrade to the latest energy efficient technology through lease financing for projects between $3,000 and $100,000.

“Our accredited vendor partners supply a range of green technology assets, from LED lighting to heating and cooling, which will allow businesses to introduce efficiency measures without capital outlay or putting a strain on cash flow,” FlexiGroup Managing Director and CEO, John DeLano, said.

The program will allow companies to undertake energy efficiency upgrades on lighting, heating, air-conditioning, refrigeration, boilers and monitoring systems, among other options.

FlexiGroup said it was confident the program would be well received given the rising power costs confronting businesses, a problem that forecasts suggest is only going to get worse.