Infinite Energy acquired by Sumitomo, promising shake-up of WA power market

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Top Australian solar retailer snapped up by Japanese giant – offering major vote of confidence in solar market, and sign of new competition in W.A. retail electricity.

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Leading Australian solar installer and electricity retailer Infinite Energy has been bought up by Japanese giant Sumitomo Corporation, in what is both a major vote of confidence in the WA solar market, and a sign of new competition in the state’s retail energy market.

Perth-based Infinite Energy announced the acquisition on Thursday, which it said had been via Sumitomo’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Summit Southern Cross Power Holdings.

Established in 2010, the company is the largest retailer of solar PV systems in W.A. and the fourth largest in Australia.

As well as selling batteries, electric vehicle charging infrastructure and managing embedded networks, it also owns and operates a port-folio of rooftop solar systems, and retails energy from them.

And 2013, Infinite established an electricity retailing business to compete in the mostly state-owned and notably dysfunctional retail electricity market in Western Australia.

Infinite Energy managing director, Aidan Jenkins, said it was the right time for the sale of the
business, and a logical step in the future growth of the company.

And while Sumitomo, via its subsidiary, is already an investor in the Australian energy sector, Infigen notes that the sale marks the first time the Japanese company has acquired a distributed energy business around the world, “marking a big shift to distributed energy.”

“We see the acquisition by Sumitomo as not only a huge vote of confidence in Infinite Energy but in the worldwide transition to renewable energy which is in full swing in Australia,” Jenkins said.

“The new ownership structure will provide Infinite with a platform to accelerate this process” he said.

On top of its new purchase, Summit Southern Cross Power Holdings has rpreviously acquired interests in the Newgen Kwinana Power Plant in 2009 and the Bluewaters Power Plant in 2013, which combined supply around 30 per cent of Western Australia’s grid electricity.

In a separate statement, Sumitomo said it had made the purchase in anticipation of “a robust increase in electric power demand” in Australia, driven by growing population and electric vehicle uptake, as well as the booming rooftop solar market.

“Introducing solar power systems in Western Australia, where power prices are high due to the costs incurred in transmitting power through areas of low population density, makes particularly good sense due to the significant sunshine the state receives,” the statement reads.

“Bringing its considerable corporate resources to IE’s existing business operations, SSCPH will help construct a platform for electricity retailing that utilises distributed solar power generation and battery storage in Australia.

“It will also leverage the Sumitomo Corporation Group’s wealth of business line know-how and networks to create new business domains that combine electric power with other businesses.”

Infinite said that Aidan Jenkins would continue to lead the business following the takeover, along with the existing senior management team.

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