RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedowns

Australian solar contracting company RCR Tomlinson has taken a $57m write down on the Daydream solar farm and the Hayman solar farm, which are owned by Edify Energy and to be installed in North Queensland.

RCR Tomlinson Solar Farm Writedown

We reported earlieir this year on the Hayman and Daydream solar farms and how First Solar will be handling the installation for Edify – at that time everything looked rosy but it appears that a couple of major factors have led to cost and time delays. Edify have cited “external” delays, bad weather, and local issues like poor ground quality.  Also being blamed are the increasingly stricter requirements being imposed by the Australian Energy Market Operator which are affecting solar farms Australia-wide. 

RCR Tomlinison Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland.
RCR Tomlinson -Daydream solar farm in Collinsville, Queensland. (source: thewest.com.au)

As of last year, RCR have over half a Gigawatt of large-scale solar projects in their order book and over a Gigawatt currently being developed or progressed under early contractor involvement processes, according RCR Managing Director & CEO, Dr Paul Dalgleish (who has since left RCR). As a result of the writedown RCR are now attempting to raise $100m from investors and have had to offer a significant discount on RCR shares on a one-for-1.65 basis at $1 each. This represents a ~65% discount on the stock’s last trade price ($2.80).

According to RenewEconomy, Tomlinson has written down $57 million on the $315 million contract values for both the 150MW Daydream and the 50MW Hayman solar farms owned by Edify Energy. They’re both located in North Queensland and both nearing completion.

A statement to shareholders noted that: 

“These project-specific issues required the Company to continuously revise its execution methodologies to mitigate delays, leading to increases in subcontractor costs (both people and plant) and logistics cost overruns.

“As a result of these cost overruns that arose over the life of the Project, RCR has realised cumulative write- downs of $57 million from the tendered margin on the Project.”

Some bad news for solar farms in Australia but we have no doubt that these projects will end up completed and can start making their investments back. We’ll be watching closely how the AEMO’s ongoing changes to legislation affects the many other solar farms currently in various stages of completion/operation. 

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Aldoga Solar Farm | Construction & Energy Submission

The Aldoga solar farm in Gladstone has lodged documents with the Federal Government and is one step closer to wards commencing the construction phase. 

Aldoga solar farm

Aldoga Solar Farm Gladstone Aerial Shot
Aldoga Solar Farm Gladstone Aerial Shot (source: dsdmip.qld.gov.au)

The Aldoga solar farm is to be designed, built and operated by global energy giant Acciona Energy, who have been in Australia since 2002 and certainly know the lay of the land. It will be a 265MW farm and Acciona have already signed a 30 year lease with the State Government. It will be located at Aldoga over 1,250 hectares and is hoped to act as a “precedent for the delivery of further economic opportunities offered from a growing renewable energy sector.”

State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick announced in April that Acciona Energy was chosen out of 16 applicants to build the solar farm in Gladstone.

“Combined with the renewable energy that will be generated, and the lease payments that will be made to the state, this project represents a major boost to the local community – economically, environmentally and socially,” Mr Dick said.

According to the report Acciona provided to the Department of Environment and Energy on July 6 (you can click here to view it), the farm will use solar panels with single axis tracking so that harvested sunlight can be maximised. 

“There is an alternative option to install a fixed-tilt mounting structure; however, preliminary studies suggest that the single-axis tracker will be more desirable from an energy production perspective,” the report said.

At maximum capacity (265MW AC), the project is estimated to supply up to 122,000 households (or 5x the amount of households in all of Gladstone). It will have a massive amount of solar panels to reach the 265MW – over one million!

It’s estimated that around 240 solar jobs will be created – with Acciona Energy adopting Buy Queensland and Gladstone Buy Local procurement policies, giving preference to local sub-contractors and manufacturers.

According to the Gladstone Observer, construction is set to run between October next year and November 2020, with the farm operating from Nov 2020 – Dec 2050. Wonder what a solar farm will look like then? 

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Darling Downs Solar Update | Jobs, Farms & More

Darling Downs solar is helping the area by providing jobs to locals and kickstarting the economy – with one council already approving $6b worth of wind and solar projects. There’s now a ‘buzz’ around the Darling Downs and renewable energy – let’s take a look at what they have in the pipeline!

Darling Downs Solar 

Darling Downs Solar Farm
Darling Downs Solar Farm (source: Origin Energy)

“We’ve got $1.2 billion of that under construction now, and that’s the exciting thing, this isn’t just about approvals, this is about action to deliver renewable energies to this region,” Western Downs Regional Council mayor Paul McVeigh said in comments to the ABC

“And we know there are another three [solar farms] in the pipeline.”

In Warwick, the 154,000 megawatt-hour generating UQ / Warwick Solar Farm is to be installed on ‘good agricultural land’ has had to wage a battle against NIMBY detractors. Mayor Tracy Dobie defended her decision (she had the deciding vote to allow the farm DA):

“This region is about growth and development and we can sit here and go poor slowly or we can progress our region and the more development we can get in our region the more jobs,” Ms Dobie said.

“The more progress we can make, the better off we are.”

Mayor Dobie continued to discuss the project and what she sees the future of renewable energy in the Darling Downs as looking like:

“This is a turning point in our region to show we are moving forward, that we are looking to the future, and there is nothing more evident than that than renewable energy.

“There’s a buzz about the Darling Downs, this is a great place to be and great time to be here.”

Toowoomba Solar

There’s been an amazing amount of renewable energy movement in Toowoomba – with the billion dollar project at Bulli Creek approved by the Tooowoomba Council. This will be built by Solar Choice over a 10 year staggered period. 

Toowoomba mayor Paul Antonio spoke about the concerns some residents may have and why he’s happy to continue approving solar farms:

“I guess we have to be a bit cautious of the type of land we put it on, but in saying that, the land is restorable, its not going to be destroyed in any mining effort or anything like that, and in 20, 30, 40 years’ time that land will be back to full production.”

Have a look at the short video below from ABC Landline which was part of an article about using ‘good farmland’ for solar farms. 

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Susan River Solar Farm Construction Commences

The up-to 100MW and $175m Susan River Solar Farm located between Hervey Bay and Maryborough in Queensland is commencing construction this month after being granted DA in 2016.

Susan River Solar Farm

Susan River Solar Farm
Susan River Solar Farm Mockup (source: http://susanriversolarfarm.com.au/)

The Susan River Solar Farm was granted DA (development approval) by the Fraser Coast Regional Council in December 2016 and is now commencing its construction, with roadworks already underway to ensure the infrastructure is set up correctly before building commences. The project is being developed by one of Australia’s biggest renewable energy developers – ESCO Pacific Pty Ltd. They currently have nine solar farms in various stages of completion – with three under construction (The Ross River Solar Farm, Childers Solar Farm, and Susan River Solar Farms) and six with planning secured. These six are in Rollingstone, Dino, Horsham, Koberinga, Moura, and Finley.

With regards to solar employment at the Susan River Solar Farm, Esco chief executive Steve Rademaker said the project will create up to 300 jobs during its inception and five to ten full-time jobs after the plant’s construction is complete. He went on to explain why the Fraser Coast location was ideal for their solar farm:

“Choosing a location came down to the suitable size identification and proximity to the electrical grid, among other factors,” Mr Rademaker said.

“The Fraser Coast ticked all these boxes. It’s a good location to build a project like this.”

According to the Fraser Coast Chronicle, the project will occupy 176 hectares and will involve the installation of 350,000 PV solar panels. 

Fraser Coast infrastructure councillor Denis Chapman called it a “jewel in the crown” of the Fraser Coast. 

The project doesn’t have a PPA (Purchase Power Agreement) signed yet, which means the farm will sell its output on the spot market once launched (unless they sign one first!).

The utility scale renewable energy project is expected to finish completion next year. 

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Primo Smallgoods Solar – Company to install 3.2MW

Primo Smallgoods are set to install Australia’s biggest commercial solar rooftop PV system with 3.2MW to go up at their Wacol, Brisbane plant in August. 

Primo Smallgoods Solar – Commercial Solar

Primo Smallgoods Solar Installation`
Primo Smallgoods Solar Installation (source: primo.com.au)

The installation will cut Primo Smallgoods’ reliance on the grid by 19 percent, according to chief operating officer Bruce Sabatta:

“JBS globally has set sustainability targets to achieve by 2020. These targets cover water, gas, electricity and greenhouse gas emissions amongst others,” he said.

“As part of the JBS business, Primo has a part to play in the reduction of our environmental impact in Australia,” Sabatta was quoting as saying back in June.

“With our new solar panel installation in place, we will use the power generated from the solar panels instead of solely relying on power from the electricity grid.

“We are making significant investments in energy efficiency to lower our carbon footprint and to continue to improve our efficiency leadership position in the industry,” Sabatta continued.

The solar array will be installed by CleanPeak Energy and Todae Solar, following a tendering process by Solar Choice in 2016. Todae are also responsible for the Brisbane Markets’ solar installation and the 12.3MW solar system Stockland are currently rolling out, so they have a lot of experience in these large-scale commercial solar installs. CleanPeak Energy was started by Philip Graham and Jonathan Hare, previously of Citigroup and Origin Energy, in order to work solely on commercial solar – so this job looks like a perfect fit.

“Our model is to effectively work with a customer to deliver a power solution that is renewable and cheaper than their current offer,” Mr Graham was quoted in the AFR.

One Step Off The Grid are reporting that the Primo solar system will generate 4,869MWh of power in its first year – the equivalent of powering 20,032 homes for one year.

This comes at a time where private/commercial investment in large-scale solar is at an all-time high with companies like Hunter Douglas investing in 800Kw earlier this month. 

“This installation is notable for the cutting edge technology that we have chosen, and its cost effectiveness which will see it pay back the investment in a little over four years,” said Tony Politis, Hunter Douglas MD for Australia/NZ.

There are many other commercial solar installs on the books all across Australia, including:

Brisbane Airport are installing a huge 6MW solar array at multiple locations which they are hoping to have complete by the end of 2018. 

BlueScope Steel will buy 200 gigawatt-hours of electricity a year from the Finley solar farm.

Cannington Mine‘s owner, South32, will install a 3MW solar farm across six hectares – to supply the mine’s accommodation village and airport. 

 

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Rodds Bay Solar Farm Receives DA

The Rodds Bay Solar Farm is one step closer, with its owner Renew Estate given planning approval for the 300MW farm around 50km south of Gladstone in Central Queensland.

Rodds Bay Solar Farm

Rodds Bay Solar Farm - Gladstone
Rodds Bay Solar Farm – Gladstone (source: Google Maps)

The Rodds Bay Solar Farm was given planning approval last week with 40 conditions

Renew Estate director Simon Currie spoke about the ramifications of the solar farm – solar jobs for Gladstone, lower prices for residential and commercial solar buyers. 

“At its peak, a solar farm of this size requires about 300 workers on site,” said Mr. Currie in a statement, reprinted in the Gladstone Observer:

“We will collaborate with local training organisations to ensure local job-seekers have the skills needed to construct and operate a solar farm, and we will prioritise the employment of locals in enduring roles once the project is operational.”

“More generation and competition mean lower power prices and Renew Estate looks forward to delivering the cheap solar energy produced by this project to consumers andbusinesses in the greater Gladstone area.”
 
Wirsol Energy, who are a major shareholder of Renew Estate, are no rookies to the game – with 200MW already operating or under construction in Queensland. The company has a goal of deploying 1GW in Australia, according to managing director Mark Hogan.

“This is an exciting time for the solar industry in Australia and Rodds Bay will help us quickly reach our target of 1GW in Australia.” he said.

The Wemen Sun Farm which is located close to the border of Victoria and New South Wales and approximately 110km south east of Mildura is also being built by Wirsol Energy.
 
Renew Estate are also trying to find an alternative site to build a second solar farm in the area. Plans for its Yarwun solar farm are currently on pause after residents complained about the project.
 

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Mackay Solar Tender (Council): $2.1m from Akcome

Mackay Council have decided which company to go with after putting out a solar tender last year. The Mackay solar project will be built by a Brisbane-based company – Akcome Power – who offered a significantly lower price than their competitors. 

The Mackay Solar Tender Overview.

We wrote about the initial tender process last year – the initial pool of EOI respondents was 16 companies, which ended up being whittled down to four.

Akcome Power Pty Ltd won the tender with a price significantly lower than the other three remaining respondents. Personally I’d be a bit wary of such a major discrepancy between quotes, so let’s dig a little deeper. Akcome’s proposal involves the usage of Huawei and ABB inverters – with 10 year warranties – and ‘unspecified’ solar panels with 30-year warranties.

Nevertheless, consultancy Peak Services reviewed the proposal and Akcome as a company and came away satisfied. Have Mackay Council got a fantastic deal or will they end up paying the prices for not paying the price and end up with a system where performance doesn’t meet expectations or quality issues abound? Time will tell. There are certainly plenty of perturbed solar companies in North Queensland right now.

According to the council, the final price will be offset by a little over half a million in STCs (small-scale renewable energy certificates). This, in conjunction with other ‘council and contingency costs’, will bring the final price to around $1.97 million.

“Council, like households, has been hard hit by rising electricity prices,’’ Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said in a statement last Friday, according to One Step Off The Grid.

“This fairly modest initial outlay is an investment in the future which will provide ongoing cost savings.”

Mackay Solar Council Tender
Mackay Solar Council Tender (source: mackay.qld.gov.au)

This will be a great thing for solar jobs in Mackay – the 21 council facilities will require plenty of help getting the solar installed – and it seems like the majority of it will be going to local installers:

“Akcome has advised it will engage local Clean Energy Council of Australia-accredited electricians, as well as local non-accredited experienced electricians to work with them, plus local trades assistants,” Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said.

“They expect to use 60 to 70 per cent Mackay-area based tradespeople to complete the installation.”

You can read the minutes of the Mackay council meeting where they decided which company to use by clicking here

 

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Clare solar farm in North Queensland now online.

The Clare solar farm, Queensland’s biggest solar farm at 100MW capacity, has connected to the grid and started exporting renewable energy. This is one of many solar projects due in 2018, totalling around 1400MW.

About the Clare Solar Farm

Clare Solar Farm
Clare Solar Farm (source: claresolarfarm.com.au)

The Clare solar farm project is located around 35km south-west from Ayr in North Queensland. It’s the biggest operating solar farm in the state, dwarfing the incumbent 50MW Kinston solar project. It is owned by Lighthouse Solar who also have ownership of the Hughenden solar farm which has a 20MW capacity and is about to begin production itself. 

We wrote about the Clare solar farm last July when it was a 125MW plant potentially going up to 150MW. It’s been launched with 100MW with the space to potentially expand down the track. They’ve signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Origin Energy along with the Bungala solar farm, which will be the biggest solar farm in Australia when it completes later this year.

According to the Clean Energy Council, around $2.6 billion of solar projects will be connected to the grid in 2018, adding around 1400MW of capacity. A solar forum held in Brisbane by the CEC last week noted that the boom in solar investment (both domestic and commercial) has led to 2760 Australian solar jobs added to the economy. 

“Large-scale solar has gone from an emerging technology in Australia at the beginning of the decade to a genuinely game-changing form of power that is cheaper than new coal or gas. It has exceeded the expectations of even the most optimistic predictions,”  CEC chief executive Kane Thornton said in comments to RenewEconomy.

“Along with the national Renewable Energy Target, support from the Queensland Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation has helped to make this one of the lowest-cost options we have for electricity today.”

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Solar in Bundaberg leads Australia’s top suburbs.

Solar in Bundaberg leads Australian suburbs for PV solar update as aerial imagery company Nearmap are reporting that last year 1078MW of rooftop solar systems were installed across Australia. Seven of the top ten suburbs are in Queensland and the other three are in Western Australia – with a huge bump in the number of rural and coastal towns installing more solar power systems than ever before. 

Solar in Bundaberg

Solar in Bundaberg
Solar in Bundaberg 2017 (source: RealEstate.com.au via Nearmap)

We’ve seen quite a lot of work done in Bundaberg so it’s no surprise to see they are the biggest suburb in Australia with the highest solar power uptake. Walking around you can see systems on many roofs and Stockland are installing a solar system on top of their Bundaberg shopping centre.

Nearmap executive Shane Preston discussed how they were able to use their software to have a visual on how much the landscape has changed, and how we will see even more as the technology/price continues to move in the right direction. Mr. Preston noted that using technology like Nearmap allow you to have a clearer look on how much solar is actually being installed in households Australia wide:

“But when you look at it from the air, you can observe in incredible detail the renewable energy uptake occurring across our country,’’ he said.

“As the benefits of renewable energies like solar continue to surface, we can expect to see more demand for installations,’’ he continued, in comments made to news.com.au.

Nearmap (visit their website here) worked with the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) to come up with the statistics (in a sense – as per Your Mortgage, Nearmap flew over 88% of the population in urbanised areas six times in the last year to help document Australia’s solar revolution) – so even though the statistics come from the CER they’ve been helped along by Nearmap’s great service. 

Australia’s Biggest Solar Suburbs

Bundaberg North – 11,756
Erskine – 11,409
Nikenbah – 10,517
Caloundra – 9308
Toowoomba – 8580
Hocking – 8416
Pacific Pines – 7724
Mackay – 7263
Raceview – 7295
Canning Vale – 7116

 

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Ross River Solar Farm (Kelso, Townsville)

The $202 million, 148MW Ross River Solar Farm in Kelso, near Townsville in North Queensland is currently under construction. It’s the largest operating single stage solar farm in Australia and will comprise of 413,000 solar panels on single axis tracking systems.

Ross River solar farm

Ross River Solar Farm
Ross River solar farm (source: rossriversolarfarm.com.au)

The solar farm reached a financial close last May under Palisade Investment Partners and ESCO Pacific. Built on a disused mango farm over 202 hectares in a rural residential area near Ross Dam, it received DA (Development Approval) from the Townsville City Council in June 2016 (you can see the Town Planning Report they submitted by clicking here). They’ve signed a 13-year power purchase agreement with EnergyAustralia – with a new buried cable 132kV transmission line to connect the project to the Ross River Bulk Supply Substation being run to help facilitate the PPA. 

The project is funded via equity from the Palisade Renewable Energy Fund and three of Palisade’s clients, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), VicSuper and HESTA.

Palisade Managing Director and CEO, Roger Lloyd, said: “We are excited about this investment which further diversifies Palisade’s renewables portfolio. Palisade’s hands-on approach to taking greenfield projects through the development phase to financial close allows us to shape our investments in a way that minimises risk and maximises returns.”

According to an article from the Toowomba Chronicle, up to 250 North Queensland solar jobs are being created through this project. Downer Utilities, part of the listed Downer Group, is the lead construction contractor and you can click here to see their current solar job listings if you’re interested in joining the project.

The Ross River solar farm is set for completion later this year and is expected to operate for up to 40 years. We’ll keep you updated with any interesting developments we hear about it. 

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