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Pacific Hydro seeks to save solar project

27th Feb 2012

Pacific Hydro is seeking to establish its own energy retailing group in a bid to save a large-scale solar power plant.

Moree Solar Farm has secured funding through the Solar Flagships program but later lost the capital after its initial bid was found to have changed.

As a result, a new round of bids was welcomed by energy minister Martin Ferguson, which all four of the original candidates were able to apply for.

AGL, TRUenergy, Infigen Suntech and Moree are all believed to have put forward new applications for the $306 million grant.

Pacific Hydro was one of the groups involved in the original Moree consortium alongside FRV and BP Solar, all of which were unable to acquire a power purchase agreement with the big utility suppliers.

The group was therefore unable to meet a financing deadline, which Pacific Hydro general manager Lane Crockett claims was partly due to competition from large-scale companies.

They are not only rivals for government grants such as the Solar Flagships program, but also potential customers for initiatives such as the Moree plant.

"It is not unreasonable to expect that this conflict will continue to occur in the future, which requires independent power producers like ourselves to continually evolve and adapt," explained Mr Crockett.

By establishing a retail arm to the company, the general manager thinks there will be greater opportunities for renewable energy projects in the future.

This could include wind power and possibly geothermal, which Mr Crockett anticipates will be a success.

Earlier this month, Pacific Hydro said that "substantial challenges" had been overcome in the Moree solar project over recent weeks, which should benefit the industry as a whole in the future.

"We are at an advanced stage in the project development and we remain confident that if granted a little more time, financial close will be achieved," commented Mr Crockett.

He identified that commercially attractive investments for the supply of solar panels as well as the construction and grid connection were at an advanced stage.

Lenders, on the other hand, were committed to the development of the project.

Moree and other projects placing bids for the funding are expected to do so with reduced costs, which is primarily due to a fall in the price of solar panels over the past 18 months.

Both AGL and TRUenergy have been linked to proposals with First Solar, while Infigen Energy and Suntech have joined forces on another project.

Posted by Bob Peacock


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