June 8, 2018 Read More →

South Australia businesses, billionaire team up on solar

Renew Economy:

U.K. “green steel” billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has unveiled a stunning, landmark agreement to provide cheap solar power to five major South Australian companies, promising to slash their electricity costs by up to 50 per cent.

The eight-year deal signed with a consortium brought together by the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME)–and including some of the heavy hitters in the resources industry–will enable Gupta’s SIMEC ZEN Energy to fast track the construction of the 220 MW Cultana solar farm near Whyalla. The eight-year supply deal is the just latest in a flood of contracts between large energy users and solar companies to slash their electricity costs by sourcing power directly from their own or third-party solar farms.

Just in the past few weeks, companies such as CUB, Mars Australia, and University of Queensland have signed contracts to meet all their electricity needs with large-scale solar plants, and others such as zinc refiner Sun Metals, Telstra and CC Amatil will use solar and/or wind to supply a large part of their needs.

Gupta’s deal is doubly significant, because it is the start of his own plans to create an Australian solar-powered economy, with plans to build 10GW of large-scale solar to slash the energy costs of his own manufacturing businesses and others. It is also another stake in the heart of the coal industry and their apostles in the right wing of the Coalition, whose claim that only coal power can deliver cheap and reliable energy is looking more ridiculous by the day.

Indeed, while South Australia’s high and volatile power prices have been blamed by conservatives and ideologues as the fault of renewables, in reality the state has always experienced such high prices, even causing the state grid provider to investigate wind energy more than half a century ago. Now it is patently clear that wind and solar–combined with the plunging cost of storage and the emergence of “firming contracts”–is easily beating fossil fuel generation as the most reliable source of cheap energy.

In all, Gupta plans 1GW of large-scale solar in South Australia alone, and plans to sign up more business customers.

More: Gupta’s stunning deal to supply cheap solar to South Australian industry

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