Connected is a quarterly business insight from New Energy Solar (NEW) that highlights some of the key takeaways of its quarterly report and shares the team’s outlook on solar energy growth.
The fourth quarter of 2018 concluded a successful year of expansion for New Energy Solar, which not only saw the team recognised as a third-time ABA100 Winner for Eco Innovation, but also led to the release of the Environmental Impact Calculator, a significant partnership with SolarBuddy, and the highly anticipated acquisition of two Australian solar plants: Manildra and Beryl.
Kickstarting the quarter was an Investor Day and site tour hosted at Manildra. More than 200 people joined the event, including representatives from NEW, First Solar Inc., the Cotton family (site owners) and valued members of the Orange and Manildra local communities. It was a pleasure to meet investors in person, answer their questions and give them more insight into the construction and day-to-day operations of the site. Following a successful tour, we look forward to more opportunities to meet with our investors, particularly as the business continues to grow.
In addition, our portfolio of assets increased more than threefold over the year from four to thirteen plants across Australia and the United States, while the construction of our large Mount Signal and Beryl power plants were well underway by the start of 2019.
Total gross generation for the year reached 768,000 MWh...
Performance and project pipeline
By quarter’s end, electricity generation attributable to NEW from the US operating portfolio reached approximately 110,000 MWh of electricity, representing enough energy to power some 12,700 homes. US plant production displaced the equivalent of 71,500 tonnes of C02 emissions during the quarter, which is comparable to removing nearly 15,600 cars from the road. Total gross generation for the year, that is, generation from the entire operating portfolio assuming 100% ownership by NEW, reached 768,000 MWh, a 90% increase on 2017.
In Australia, Manildra reached full commercial operation after spending a number of months selling electricity into the National Energy Market. The plant now sells electricity and Large-scale Generation Certificates to EnergyAustralia under its long-term power purchase agreement. Significant progress was also made on the construction of Beryl, which we anticipate will achieve full commercial operation by mid-2019. Once operative, the plant will be used to assist in meeting the operational electricity needs of the Sydney Metro Northwest railway.
In the United States, generation was driven largely by growth in the operating portfolio, with six plants achieving commercial operation during quarters three and four. Plants in Nevada and Oregon performed as anticipated on a quarterly basis, but exceeded production expectations significantly during the month of November. Meanwhile, severe weather conditions impacted the production of plants in North Carolina and California. However, our US team worked closely with operations and maintenance contractors to execute a comprehensive disaster mitigation plan to help protect each site – where possible allowing the team to alleviate any material damage and help the plants recover quicker. Meanwhile, the US team also attended a ceremony for the completion and commissioning of NEW’s six newest solar plants, acquired from Cypress Creek Renewables (CCR) at County Home.
Looking forward, NEW has committed to acquire another six solar projects from CCR in North Carolina and Oregon as part of the larger Rigel Portfolio acquisition announced in October 2017 – projects that we look forward to kickstarting if and when all development milestones and conditions precedent have been met and achieved. In the meantime, our team will continue to skilfully identify new growth opportunities that offer the dual benefits of positive social impact and long-term, risk-adjusted returns.
Last year was an eventful year for the renewable energy sector, which not only saw the implementation of solar tariffs in the US, but which also brought the release of the IPCC’s landmark report on climate change. At New Energy Solar, we recognise the growing investor interest in solar power and the global transition to renewable energy. As more states, corporates, communities and individuals take active steps to contribute towards this transition – even in the face of rhetoric and disruption – New Energy Solar anticipates continued growth for the solar industry in 2019.
John serves as New Energy Solar’s Managing Director and CEO. He brings a wealth of experience and capability to his role after more than two decades of experience in corporate advisory and investment banking, with a focus on the infrastructure, energy and utility sectors.