In an early sign that 2016 could see an end Australia’s investment drought in large scale renewable energy, privately owned generation company Alinta Energy has launched an advertising campaign calling for expressions of interest for large-scale generation certificates and energy.
The ads –including the below, which was spotted on the pages of The Australian newspaper by Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham – say the company will hold a two-stage tender process open to interested parties operating any renewable energy technologies in the NEM.
Australia’s drought in renewables investment may be about to break. In todays Oz Alinta calling for project EOIs pic.twitter.com/DmODMRbwnt
— Mark Wakeham (@markwakeham) January 27, 2016
The move is considered significant because it marks the first tender from a private sector retailer for more than a year, thanks largely to the policy turmoil around Australia’s renewable energy target.
As we reported here late last year, 2015 saw only those projects directly sponsored by the ACT government’s reverse auction program, or small solar projects (Degrussa, Uterne) co-funded by government agencies such as ARENA and the CEFC, go ahead.
This was despite the bipartisan agreement in May to cut the RET to 33,000GWh from 41,000GWh, and subsequent assurances from environment minister Greg Hunt that there would be no further changes to the policy, and that retailers should end their “capital strike.”
There have been numerous tenders from state-owned entities – such as ARENA’s $100 million pitch for large scale solar, and various tenders by Ergon Energy, W.A.’s Synergy, NSW for its metro rail project, South Australia for government procurement, and the City of Melbourne, but none to date from private companies.
Alinta, meanwhile, in September revealed plans to take on Western Australia’s state government-owned monopoly electricity provider Synergy by selling solar panels to WA households.
The January 2016 offer, called “solar this summer”, gives Alinta customers the option to buy or lease PV systems ranging from 1kW to 5kW at a price of around $5000 for a 3kW system.
Beyond this, the Alinta’s history with renewables is patchy, including its recent abandonment of plans to replace the ageing brown coal generator at Port Augusta in South Australia with a solar tower and storage power station, declaring the idea to be financially unviable.
The company is scheduled to close the Port Augusta plant, the last of South Australia’s brown coal generators in March this year, meaning the end of coal-fired generation in the state.