BP Solar commits to $923m Australian project

BP, EUROPE’S second-largest oil company, is sticking with a proposed $923  million solar project in Australia after deciding to leave the business globally  amid a glut.

”We continue to remain part of the consortium and we continue to work to  bring the project to fruition,” Jamie Jardine, a spokesman for the company,  said yesterday.

While it is proceeding with the plan, the London-based company and its  partners in the proposed 150 megawatt solar plant in NSW have yet to sign  power-supply agreements needed to advance with the project and have failed to  meet a December 15 deadline to reach a financial close, Mr Jardine said.

The companies expect to start construction in the second half of next year,  later than previously estimated, he said.

BP solar will quit the solar business after 40 years because it has become  unprofitable, Mike Petrucci, the chief executive of the solar division, told  staff in an internal letter earlier this month. The industry faces oversupply  and price pressures after Chinese competitors increased production.

BP solar, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Pacific Hydro won $306.5 million in  Australian government funding earlier this year to build the Moree solar farm.  The companies aim to build one of the world’s largest plants using photovoltaic  panels to turn sunlight into power, Javier Huergo, the head of business  development at Spain’s Fotowatio, said earlier this year.

The partners had expected to begin building the solar farm in the first  quarter next year, Mr Huergo said at the time. BNP Paribas, Banco Santander and  National Australia Bank were among eight banks that initially agreed to help  finance the venture.

Australia, which has set a target of generating 20 per cent of its power  from renewable energy sources by the end of the decade, also announced in June  it would provide $464 million to a solar project in Queensland led by a unit of  the French company Areva SA. That venture proposed a 250 megawatt solar thermal  and gas hybrid power plant, the government had said.

BP solar, an early entrant into the solar business, quit manufacturing entirely in  July. The company plans to sell stakes in projects involving more than 158  megawatts that it has developed with local partners in countries such as Italy,  Spain, Germany, Britain and the US.

by smh

The Author

I took an interest in the Australian energy sector close to ten years ago and since then have monitored the trends, technologies and direction of the Australian Energy Market. I was drawn to the Australian solar market in 2008 and since then have worked heavily in the field. I am partnered with national and international solar energy companies, from manufacturers of solar panel and inverter technology, online software developers that introduce tools to quote, monitor and manage solar power systems and media organisations who like myself, closely monitor the solar and renewable energy sector.

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