SERA: Global oil and gas companies step into large-scale solar

Australia is proving to be an attractive marketplace for multinational energy companies as they push into renewable energy development. New large-scale solar projects in particular are attracting the oil and gas giants, as outlined in the latest SERA Tracker report.

Total Eren, a joint venture between Eren Renewable Energy and French oil multinational Total, is currently leading the leading developer for new projects in the SERA database. The JV’s 100 MW Kiamal solar project in Victoria is particularly notable, writes SERA, because of its offtake PPA with Powershop.

“What sets Total apart is both their partnership with a successful developer, which has yielded operating assets overseas, and the fact that they have a power purchase agreement (PPA) for their key Australian asset,” notes SERA in its analysis.

Lightsource BP’s first Australian project, its 50 MW Naring project also in Victoria, has also seen it enter the SERA Tracker. SERA says that it is likely Lightsource BP will add more projects to its Australian portfolio. The analyst points to Lightsource BP’s strategic partnership with UK fund manager BlackRock, which is already active in Australia.

BP made its first move in PV since 2012 with acquisition of 43% stake in British renewables firm Lightsource. Total is also no newcomer to PV, and holds a majority stake in U.S.-based module maker SunPower.

For the first two months of 2017, SERA has tracked 2.2 GW of new PV power plant project announcements – most of which are in concept stage.

There is a pipeline of 59.4 GW across 427 projects currently at various stage of development, across all renewables, in Australia – according to SERA. 22 companies are responsible for the development activity.

“For the opening two months of the year, solar power has dominated the growth in the Australian renewable energy project pipeline,” writes SERA. “Over 80% of new capacity additions since the start of 2018 are utility scale solar, and in keeping with the recent trend, most of these are at the conceptual stage.”