Mixed Greens: Pacific Hydro goes retail to challenge utilities

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PacHydro to formally launch retail arm this week. Plus Saudi seeks funds for renewables ramp-up; Japan’s no-nukes deadline; and UK hits wind record.

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Renewable energy company Pacific Hydro this weeks formally launches its new retail operations, the latest plank in its strategy to become a vertically integrated green energy company, and challenge the dominance of the so-called “Big Three”.  Pacific Hydro said the business will initially target medium and large business retail customers in Victoria and South Australia such as local councils and manufacturing facilities.

However, it said the new business, combined with its wholesale arm, would mean it was less reliant on offt-take agreements from the largest retailers to finance projects. The failure to obtain such a contract scuttled its ability to develop the 150MW Moree Solar Farm, the winning Solar Flagships project that ultimately lost its federal funding. Pacific Hydro says it now has a portfolio of 207MW of merchant wind farms that will form the basis of its offering to retail customers. Other specialist renewable energy developers Meridian Energy and Infigen Energy are both considering establishing retail operations in Australia to boost their generation business.

In other news…

Saudi Arabia says it will seek private investment in its effort to develop solar power and other forms of renewable energy, as part of its plans to have 42GW of solar installed at a cost of more than $100 billion over the next two decades. The country plans for solar projects to become operational within 10 years, Abdullah al-Shehri, the governor of the kingdom’s Electricity and Co-Generation Regulatory Authority, told a conference in Riyadh, Bloomberg reported. Al-Shehri also said Saudi Arabia was in talks about connecting its power grid with Turkey and was studying a possible link with Egypt.

The Japanese government has confirmed its plans to phase out all 50 of its nuclear reactors over the next 30 years and boost renewable energy, 18 months on from the massive earthquake and tsunami which caused a meltdown at the Fukushima power plant in 2011. BusinessGreen reports that no new nuclear plants will be built, meaning that most reactors will be shut down completely by the year 2040.

The Green Building Council of Australia has revealed it has certified 500 Green Star projects, after launching the rating system for buildings in 2003. GBCA chief executive Romilly Madew says these 500 projects combined equate to eight million square metres of Green Star-certified building space around Australia – from offices to retail centres, and from schools to hospitals.

And in the UK, as predicted by National Grid, wind farms generated a record amount of wind power last week, hitting the 4GW milestone for the first time and peaking at 10 am on Friday. BusinessGreen reports that wind farms supplied nearly 11 per cent of UK electricity on Friday morning today as government unveiled its £11 million renewable energy contest.

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