GREEN DEALS: TRU's Stony shock

Great doubt surrounds TRUenergy’s Stony Gap wind farm in SA, but the news is better for Snowtown II, the state’s biggest wind farm. Elsewhere, ARENA’s draft funding strategy is released, Algae.Tec opens Australia’s first advanced algae to biofuels facility and solar manufacturers capture attention.

TRUenergy, Stony Gap wind farm

The future for the Stony Gap wind farm in South Australia appears bleak. The proposed TRUenergy development was this week knocked back by the local council on the back of a marathon six-hour meeting. According to the ABC, TRU is mulling the prospect of an appeal to the Environment, Resources and Development Court.

The proposed 123MW development near Burra in South Australia was to consist of 41 turbines and power 51,560 households each year.

Snowtown II

The news is more positive for South Australia’s largest wind farm, with financial close reached this week and construction to begin this month. New Zealand’s TrustPower sent the directive to proceed to the project’s main contractors – Siemens (turbine supply and wind farm construction), Downer EDI (construction of a 275 kV transmission line) and ElectraNet (transmission connection) – this week.

The 270 MW Snowtown II project is set to be operational by the end of 2014, with the first power expected to be exported in October 2013. It will incorporate 90 Siemens wind turbines.

ARENA

The draft funding strategy has been released for comment today by the $3.2 billion Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

ARENA, which has bipartisan support, began operation in July, with one of its first tasks to be assessing the funding suitability of projects that failed to receive government backing in the first round of Solar Flagships.

The Agency is guaranteed in legislation until 2020 and has approximately $1.7 billion to spend on new intitiatives, with the other $1.5 billion tied up in other intiatives already underway, specifically Solar Flagships.

Stakeholders have until August 27 to respond to the draft document, with a final funding strategy for the period 2012/13 to 2014/15 to be provided before the end of the year.

"Under the interim strategy ARENA will continue to: administer existing projects; consider funding projects shortlisted for Solar Flagships;  progress the Emerging Renewables Program; and select eligible applicants under the Advanced Biofuels Investment Readiness program."

Algae-Tec

Australia’s first advanced algae to biofuels facility has been opened by the ASX-listed Algae.Tec. The Shoalhaven One facility in Nowra (NSW) was commissioned yesterday, August 2. It is good news for the fledgling business, which sees the technology offering a boost to Australia’s energy security.

“Algae.Tec offers the promise of home grown transport fuels (aviation and diesel), which is the number one energy security priority for countries like the USA and increasingly Australia.”

First Solar, Suntech, Trina, Yingli

Sales results from a swag of key solar manufacturers set investors on edge this week, while a possible fraud of one of the industry’s largest player cast doubt on its future. The only good news came from First Solar, whose shares soared over 20 per cent overnight thanks to a strong quarterly report. The share price of First Solar has faced similar declines to most in the sector but a rare black quarterly result, amid a sea of red in the industry, offered cause for investor optimism.

While Trina Solar, LDK Solar and Yingli Green Energy disappointed the market, First Solar was seen profiting from a strategic change of direction, which has seen it focus more heavily on large-scale solar farms.

Meanwhile, the news isn’t good at Suntech, the world’s number one or two solar manufacturer. A possible fraud may have cost the Chinese firm $A650 million and that is casting doubt on its ability to meet its financing commitments. Analysts suggest it is likely to require assistance from Beijing and while Chinese governments have been happy to bail out solar firms in the past, surely there must come a time when they let someone fail. That decision probably won’t start with Suntech, however.

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