Australia's largest power and gas retailer Origin Energy Ltd. has signed its first contract to purchase electricity from large-scale solar project to meet its renewable energy target following renewed interest in the local sector.
Origin announced on Thursday it has committed to a 15-year deal to buy all output and renewable energy certificates from the 164 million Australian dollar, 56 megawatt Moree Solar Farm in northern New South Wales state, which recently began production, to help meet the company's liability under the nation's renewable energy targets (RET).
Earlier uncertainty over Australia's RET has caused energy retailers to hesitate to commit to long-term contracts to purchase their requirements, however renewed interest in the industry following the September 2015 party-room coup that instilled Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister is driving price rises in renewable energy certificates that underpin the target.
"Stability is starting to return to the Australian renewable energy market," Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV), which built the solar farm with U.S. private equity, chief executive Rafael Benjumea said in a statement.
Origin is aspiring to become one of Australia's leading renewable companies, applying to Australian authorities for funding a large-scale project in central Queensland state.
"Solar technology has improved dramatically over the past few years and the cost has come down as a result," Origin Energy head of energy markets Frank Calabria said.
In early December 2015, Origin was given local marketing and distribution rights of Telsa Motors Inc. solar lithium ion battery storage product called Powerwall, used for storing solar energy for home power usage and charging electric cars.
Australia has the highest per-capita rooftop solar power mainly due to high retail prices for energy.
Origin is packaging the Tesla storage solution with PV solar panels from Trina Solar Ltd and inverters from Israeli-based SolarEdge technologies.
Australian climate advocates have said coupling solar PV panels with high capacity battery storage could be the cheapest way to obtain electricity within three years, creating a 24-billion-Australian dollar industry if just half of the nation's households adopted the technology.