Mixed Greens: Utility pain spurs record renewables turnover

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Wind, solar assets changing hands at record rate as utilities panic. 60MW solar farm proposed for Gold Coast; Gullen Range wind farm connected to grid.

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Wind farms and solar power stations are changing hands at record rates, according to data from Ernst & Young, a trend that is believed to signal both an increased taste for renewables among pension funds, as well as hard times for utilities – the assets’ biggest sellers. Bloomberg reports that about 43 per cent of the 275 deals completed in the power industry in the first nine months of 2013 were for renewable generators, up from 37 per cent in the corresponding 2012 period, according to Ernst & Young. The combined value of the deals increased to $US104 billion from $US93 billion.

Buyers ranging from insurer Aviva to Danish fund PFA Pension are reported to be seeking yields averaging about 6 per cent on wind and solar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. While utilities including France’s GDF Suez, Spain’s Iberdrola and Dong Energy have unloaded plants to, as Bloomberg puts it, “build cash cushions as power prices slumped and competition increased from independent generators.”

In other news…

A huge 220,000-panel solar PV array, capable of powering 18,000 homes, is being proposed for flood-prone land at Carrara or Robina on Queensland’s Gold Coast. Local newspaper, the Gold Coast Bulletin, reports that Rob Campbell – boss of Vulcan Energy and Australian Solar Systems, and the businessman behind the $145 million project – says the solar farm would generate 60 megawatts of electricity, and create 400 jobs during its construction.

At three times the size of the 20MW Royalla solar farm in Canberra, the proposed Gold Coast project would be Australia’s largest. Both parcels of land earmarked as potential sites for it – land owned by the Gold Coast City Council next to Skilled Park, or next to the Palm Meadows Golf Course, owned by Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho – are flood-prone, and thus limited in their use. For the plan to go ahead, Campbell will need a heads of agreement with the council, as well as state government approval. As for a PPA, Campbell says he expects a deal could be done with a major energy retailer or the energy generated could be sold on the spot market.

Electrical works connecting Goldwind’s Gullen Range Wind Farm, in New South Wales’ Southern Tablelands, were completed on the weekend, making this the first major wind farm since 2010 to achieve successful grid connection with TransGrid. The 73 turbine wind farm connects to the existing high voltage 330kV powerline that runs adjacent to the wind farm site. The powerline connects it with TransGrid’s existing Yass and Bannaby substations. Energisation of turbines is planned to begin in late November and early December 2013 with operation expected to commence in June 2014. The connection works were delivered ahead of schedule and within budget. The wind farm has also achieved successful registration to operate in the National Electricity Market and in accordance with the Clean Energy Act.

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1 Comment
  1. Robert Johnston 6 years ago

    Great quote in the GC about selling the electricity being the least of the projects problems. I think Rob Campbell has a bright (pardon the pun) future advising every renewable developer in Australia on how easy it is to sell electricity from a project. [plants tongue in cheek]

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