Australia: Commercial sector grows as ET Solar joins PPA segment

Australia’s solar sector installed almost 58 MW in January, in figures released today by Green Energy Markets across just shy of 12,000 systems. The total includes 14 MW of commercial rooftop capacity accounting for 24% of the total installed figured. The figures show the continuing growth of the commercial rooftop sector, which accounted for 17% of total installations in 2014, when 138 MW of large rooftop solar capacity was added for the year.

The northeast state of Queensland continues to be the leading state with over 28% of installations by state, followed by the more populous southeastern states of Victoria with 22% and New South Wales with close to 21.5%.

The strong performance of solar in Queensland comes after the state’s conservative government suffered a devastating election result. The Queensland government, lead by Premier Campbell Newman who himself lost his seat in the election, had been antagonizing the solar industry and had been calling for solar growth in the state to be curtailed. The Australian Solar Council had campaigned against the conservative government in Queensland as a part of its Save Solar campaign.

ET Solar rolls out commercial PPAs Down Under

The continued growth of commercial solar in Australia presents an opportunity for solar companies looking for opportunities Down Under. Chinese producer ET Solar is the latest firm to offer an innovative product to the large rooftop space, with a deal announced today that will see it roll out PPAs for large consumers.

ET Solar has partnered with the federal government funded Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to offer commercial PPAs around Australia. ET Solar will provide AUD$13.3 million ($10.3 million) in equity to the scheme, with CEFC itself contributing AUD$20 million ($15.4 million). The debt will be used for ET Solar to develop and own commercial rooftop arrays, under PPAs to be signed with building owners and operators.

ET Solar will look to develop rooftop arrays between 30 kW and 2 MW on shopping centers, mining and manufacturing businesses under 10 or 20-year contracts.

"We established our Australian subsidiary last year to develop our solution business in this exciting market," Dennis She, President and CEO of ET Solar, noted. "CEFC financing will greatly facilitate the rollout of ET Solar’s PPA model and help the local commercial sector significantly reduce their electricity costs."

ET Solar rolled out its pilot commercial PPA program in the state of Queensland.

"We see the ET Solar commercial PPA model as a way to remove the barrier of the up-front capital requirement which should enable many more Australian businesses to benefit from the lower cost and environment friendly solar energy," said CEFC CEO Oliver Yates.

Australia’s federal government, lead by the embattled Prime Minister Tony Abbott has sought to abolish the CEFC but has been unable to do so to date, as it lacks the numbers in the Senate to pass the required legislation.