Origin Energy Looks to Expand Solar on Rooftops in Sunny Australia

Origin Energy Ltd., Australia’s largest electricity retailer, plans to expand its solar business in the country amid forecasts for a fivefold increase in installations through 2030 and declining costs.

Origin plans more investments like a 3-megawatt rooftop solar project in South Australia state announced this week, according to Managing Director Grant King. Origin will own the system used in the project with partner ZEN Energy Systems, according to a Feb. 16 statement.

“We will chase our share of these projects,” King said in a phone interview. “The aggregate amount of solar product going to rooftops will grow, reflecting companies like Origin moving into that space, putting the panels on themselves, owning the panels and selling the power.”

Small-scale solar installations in Australia are forecast to rise to almost 20 gigawatts by 2030, requiring more than A$40 billion ($31 billion) in investment, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated last year. Australia is the world’s sunniest continent, according to the Climate Council, a nonprofit group in the country.

Australian households will be able to repay their solar costs in less than four years by 2030, compared with about seven years now, according to the report in June.

Origin sees government support as the driver, King said. “Solar, with the current level of subsidies, is attractive for customers, and it’s important we play our role in that process,” he said.

“Solar, with the current level of subsidies, is attractive for customers, and it’s important we play our role in that process,” King said.

Origin is also interested in solar overseas. In Chile, Origin increased its investment in Energia Andina SA to almost 50 percent, the company said in a presentation today as it posted a 9 percent decline in first-half profit.

Energia Andina acquired 40 percent of the 69-megawatt Javiera solar project, which is under construction, according to Origin.

Copyright 2015 Bloomberg

Lead image: Australia via Shutterstock

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