GREEN DEALS: Trillion-dollar baby

Bloomberg marks trillionth dollar of green investment since 2004; Petratherm's billion-dollar vision for Oz clean energy precinct; Ceramic Fuel Cells completes another round of fundraising; and Wasabi Energy boosts its stake in Aqua Guardian Group.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has clocked the trillionth dollar of investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and smart energy technologies since its records began in 2004 – the year oil prices began their steady march to $100, and in which Germany introduced its world-leading feed-in tariffs. BNEF says annual clean energy investment has risen nearly five-fold, from $US52 billion in 2004 to $243 billion last year, a compound annual growth rate of 29 per cent. And it expects figures for 2011 to be in record territory, driven by funding for US solar thermal projects, large European offshore wind financings, high levels of activity in China and Germany, and burgeoning national renewable energy programmes in India.

BNEF says the trillion-dollar milestone almost certainly took place sometime during the last two weeks of November, probably somewhere in the developing world, with investments ranging from Rhodia Energy securing the Brazilian real equivalent of $US60.5 million in debt for the 77MW expansion of its Paraiso biomass co-generation plant; China Huadian Corporation financing a 48MW wind farm in Fujian province; and Marena Renovables Capital obtaining debt from the Inter-American Development Bank towards the development of the 396MW La Ventosa wind farm in Mexico.  

"The trillionth-dollar milestone shows that the world is not waiting for a deal on climate in order to start turning the super-tanker away from fossil fuels,” said Bloomberg New Energy Finance chief executive Michael Liebreich. “It should serve as a message to the UN and all those in Durban to stop obsessing about a binding deal to cap carbon emissions, and to think much harder about how to speed up investment in the solutions. Another five years of investment growth at the same compound rates, and the world will have broken the back of emissions growth.”

Hot rock hub

Geothermal aspirate Petratherm has proposed a $A1.5 billion clean energy precinct to be created in South Australia that would facilitate the development of geothermal, wind, solar and gas-fired generation. The plan is to take advantage of the state’s booming demand for energy – mostly to support huge mining projects such as BHP’s Olympic Dam – and pave the way for 600MW of new capacity to be delivered by 2016.

Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis says the precinct would be located around 50km north of its Paralana geothermal project and would cover 1,800 square kilometres of land. He describes it as a potential “game changer” for the company. However, the precinct will initially focus on gas and wind power generation (300MW) before expanding to a similar amount of solar and geothermal as these technologies develop as lower-cost alternatives.

“Through the combination of new power generation facilities on-site, the 600MW of electricity we plan to produce will be reliable, competitively priced electricity to meet expected demand from large mining developments,” he said in a statement. “The location has been purposely selected because it’s the nearest point to the growing electricity market where there’s a convergence of all four energy resources – gas, wind, solar and geothermal,” he said. “This combination of energy sources can deliver attractive hybrid products to customers that lower electricity costs and improve reliability while also reducing carbon emissions.”

Big cell

Ceramic Fuel Cells has released the results of its latest round of fundraising, with an announcement on Tuesday that approximately 38 per cent of the shares from its Rights Issue were subscribed for by Australia and NZ shareholders, while around 84 per cent of the Overseas Offer Shares were subscribed for, raising a total of $A11 million (£7.2 million). This adds to the $A5.9 million (£3.8 million) raised under the recently completed placing to institutional investors, and subscription by a UK cornerstone investor. The company now plans to issue a further 76,983,530 fully paid ordinary shares at 10.8 cents to raise an additional $A8.3 million (£5.4 million), as well as 25,686,748 fully paid overseas ordinary shares at seven pence to raise an additional £1.8 million ($A2.7 million).

CFC chairman Jeff Harding says the result provides a boost to the company at a time of uncertainty for cleantech companies. "As we set out in the Prospectus, the additional funds raised will allow the company to execute its current business plan and increase production of our world leading clean energy products, while continuing to reduce unit production costs," he said. "Over the past year we have increased our orders more than 10 times, and now have an order book of more than 600 units. We are gaining momentum through our commercial sales channels as well as our utility partners. Last week we announced an order for just over 100 units from E.On UK, and this week our integrated unit developed in France with De Dietrich Thermique and GDF Suez received European product approval."

Wasabi's water works

Wasabi Energy has announced it will be increasing its stake in water conservation technology outfit Aqua Guardian Group from 47.5 per cent to 79 per cent, with the conversion of $4.2 million of inter-company loans into equity in the investee company. Aqua Guardian is trademark owner of its flagship water evaporation and algae control product AquaArmour, and also owns around 26 per cent of ASX listed Clean TeQ, a provider of innovative cleantech solutions for the air and water treatment markets. The move by Wasabi Energy provides Aqua Guardian with a clean balance sheet and increased flexibility to pursue growth and expansion opportunities, under the guidance of its newly appointed CEO, Tim Grogan – whose main goal will be to oversee the large-scale deployment of AquaArmour in key markets and look to new development. Grogan, who has led various companies through to successful commercialisation of technologies, and has extensive experience with intellectual property management, is considered to be an important addition to the Aqua Guardian Group.

Aqua Guardian's AquaArmour technology is a series of interlocking discs that are designed to float on dams and other water reserves, to reduce evaporation (by up to 88 per cent) and to inhibit algal growth, by reducing up to 95 per cent of the UV and visual light from penetrating water surfaces, thereby reducing water temperatures. It is currently being used at four sites across South Australia and Victoria for both evaporation and algae control applications. The product has also been recently recognised by a number of industry awards, including the
Australian Water Association’s award for Infrastructure Project Innovation in Victoria and the Mines and Money Mining Excellence Award for Technology. It was also one of three finalists in the savewater!Awards. Wasabi Energy plans to continue its support of Aqua Guardian's development, with funding of up to $500,000 going towards its global growth ambitions.

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