Acciona Energy Bails On Australia’sConcentrating Solar Power Flagships Program

According to a Bloomberg report, Spanish firm Acciona Energy has pulled out of Australia’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagships program. The article on Bloomberg quotes an email statement from the company that said uncertainty in Australian energy markets and the absence of an offtake contract were contributing factors in its decision.

Acciona’s project was one of eight invited to participate in the second stage of assessment for Round 1 of the $1.5 billion Solar Flagships Program.

Acciona had proposed to generate 200 MW using solar thermal parabolic trough technology in Queensland in the Lilyvale region, or in South Australia near Roxby Downs and Olypmic Dam.

Acciona Energy is one of the world’s leader in wind power and is no slouch when it comes to solar power either. A couple of days ago, the company announced it has reached 214 megawatts in operation in four concentrated solar energy farms, giving it a 17% share of the world market. It’s most recent large Concentrating Solar Power project, Palma del Río II in Spain, represented an investment of 251 million euros and created 350 jobs during its construction.

Seven of the eight proposed solar projects picked earlier this year to advance in the contest for government funding have submitted final applications, Fiona Scott, a spokeswoman for Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, said today.

BP Plc, AGL Energy Ltd., and CLP Holdings Ltd. unit TRUenergy Holdings Pty were selected by Australia to advance in a competition for funding from its Solar Flagships program. A proposal from Suntech Power Holdings Co. of China and Australia’s Infigen Energy was also among those shortlisted in the category of companies aiming to develop projects using photovoltaic panels to turn sunlight into power.

Acciona’s plan would require “substantial capital” and the project’s “financial performance cannot be accurately forecast,” the company said in an e-mailed statement today. “Uncertainty in the energy markets in Australia and the absence of an offtake contract were contributing factors.”

Acciona expects “significant opportunities” in the Australian solar market during the next decade and is committed to pursuing projects in the country, it said.

The Acciona joint venture was among the projects chosen in the solar thermal category with Parsons Brinckerhoff, Transfield Holdings and Wind Prospect CWP, the government has said.

A decision by the Australian government on the funding is scheduled for mid 2011, Ferguson said today in a statement. The program is intended to help meet a government target of generating 20 percent of the country’s power from renewable energy by 2020.