Leading solar cell manufacturer, the Korea-based $40 billion Hanwha Group, has revealed plans to launch a “next generation” 100 per cent renewable electricity retailer in Australia, in October.
The company has teamed up with UK tech outfit Octopus Energy on a retail energy platform that is says will target markets transitioning away from fossil fuels; decentralising energy supply; and cutting consumer costs with dynamic pricing, EVs and battery storage.
Australia, Hanwha says, is one such market.
“(Octopus Energy’s) ‘Kraken’ technology is designed to accelerate the move to green energy and smarter grids – a transition Australia is making,” the companies said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It handles colossal amounts of data from smart meters (30 billion rows of data in the UK already) whilst also allowing outstanding customer experience.”
As it happens, Octopus Energy is backed by major UK solar farm investor Octopus Capital, which also has interests in the Australian large-scale PV market (through Octopus Investments), including the 333MW Darlington Point Solar Farm in New South Wales, which it is co-developing with Edify Energy.
As we reported here, the Darlington Point solar farm – which is one of the largest PV projects in the Australian pipeline – reached financial close in January, and sealed a power off take deal.
Edify Energy said at the time that it had worked with Octopus to arrange more than $450 million to finance the project. The power purchase agreement is with Delta Electricity – the previously state-owned coal generation company that was snapped up for a song by the not-always renewables friendly coal baron, Trevor St Baker.
Hanwha, meanwhile, is a Fortune 500 company that operate across aerospace chemicals, finance, service and leisure, and solar energy, with bases in more than 10 key locations around the world including Korea, the US, Japan and Australia.
The group’s solar cell and module manufacturing arm, Hanwha Q Cells, is currently fighting a number of legal battles, in which it claims various big-name industry rivals have used its patented passivation technology, which boosts solar cell efficiency, without authorisation.
In Australia, the company filed patent infringement complaints in Australia’s Federal Court against China’s JinkoSolar and LONGi Solar, and against Norway-based REC Group and solar PV panel distributors Sol Distribution and BayWa r.e. Solar Systems. The other companies reject those claim. Jinko says they are “without technical or legal merit.”
All that aside, Hanwha is obviously keen to add energy retailing to its broad list of commercial ventures, and sees Australia as a good starting point.
“With volatile prices, and increased demand through decarbonisation, energy companies will need deep technology at the core, and Kraken is designed to deliver this,” the companies said in a statement.
“The Octopus Kraken platform was the natural choice to deliver our ambition of digital transformation and bring a new level of customer experience to the Australian retail energy market,” said Hanwha Energy Retail Australia managing director Andrew Butler.