Tony Concannon, former head of GDF Suez (Hazelwood plant): ‘solar and storage already cheaper than gas’

Tony Concannon, former Australian boss of Engie (formerly (GDF Suez) and current chief executive of Reach Solar Energy, has made a submission to the Finkel review last month. Concannon’s submissions says the combination of solar energy and storage is already ‘competitive’ with the gas fired CCGTs (Combined Cycle Gas Turbines).

Tony Concannon Solar
Tony Concannon (LinkedIn)

Concannon’s submission to the Finkel review on February 21 notes that “Renewable generation and energy storage costs continue to fall rapidly. Reach received estimates in late December 2016 for solar PV and energy storage (40MWh to 100MWh) which translated into a tariff between $110/MWh to $130/ MWh. This is already competitive with gas-fired CCGT and costs are expected to reduce further”. It’s interesting to note that Concannon, as former boss of Engie (i.e. the company that run Victoria’s ‘Hazelwood’ brown coal generator which is Australia’s most polluting brown coal generator) has completely shifted focus to renewables. It’ll also be interesting to see whether these estimates are able to hold up in practice.

Reach’s Current Solar Projects

As per RenewEconomy , Reach Solar Energy have approval to build 300MW PV (Photovoltaic) solar power station 7km north east of Port Augusta (on a former ostrich farm) in South Australia, and a contract from Origin Energy for two 110mw solar farms as part of the Bungala Solar Project. The ‘Nature of Development’ as per the application states the “Bungala Solar Project – 300 MW Solar Voltaic Electricity Generation Plant” – so it’ll be interesting to see how many MW they end up producing (the $660m Port Augusta solar array will start with 100MW and scale up to the planned 300MW according to The Guardian) and how this affects effective tariffs after they are completed. If costs do continue to reduce as quickly as per the below image indicates it’s only a short matter of time before we do see the energy market become cheaper than gas-fired CCGT. Once regulations around storage of this energy are organised Australia will be in good shape to meet its Paris target by 2030.

PPA Graph Australia
Bundled PPA (power purchase agreement) Prices as per Origin presentation.


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