The commercial renewable power generation market has received a huge injection of faith with the Australian Greens’ rise to power in the recent federal election, says CEO of O’Donnell Griffin, Mr David Rafter.
He explains here how this emergence of ‘green’ policy muscle, combined with the growing pressure on a carbon price, offers the greatest opportunities yet to the commercial power generation industry to win by going green.
With the Australian Greens holding the balance of power in the Senate from next July 2011, the national power generation market needs to prepare itself for a major deployment of ‘clean’ power generation technologies.
This is a time of massive opportunities for our industry as the renewable energy sector will receive the backing of the Greens to implement paradigm changes in power generation methods including wind, solar, hydro and cogeneration.
Our challenge as an industry is to ensure that these strengthening technologies, especially in regard to wind and solar, become fully developed for large-scale commercial application.
The R&D phase of developing cost-effective commercial power generation at this scale requires not only government support and advocacy but commitment by business.
At the next level, electrical engineering and installation companies, such as O’Donnell Griffin, need to focus on providing the innovations that will assist with the effective, rapid deployment of these new commercial power generation options.
Demand will be underpinned by a carbon price that is already on the table with the establishment of a Climate Change Committee being the first point of agreement between the Greens and the Australian Labour Party.
A good example of how commercial power generation may develop can be seen in the development of the domestic solar photovoltaic (PV or rooftop solar panels) market. Its growth is driven by a combination of market, community and government acceptance. Fundamentally, there is no point in creating a product if people are not going to buy it.
It is now the commercial sector’s turn to respond to the pressures of rising power prices as the economy turns away from traditional coal-fired power generation utilities.
O’Donnell Griffin has been part of the emergence of renewable power generation at the commercial level through a number of contracts awarded by Sun Power in Perth under the city’s innovative Solar City program. We are also involved in tendering for a number of wind generation opportunities, and have been involved for some time now in the domestic PV market through our national installation partnership with Origin Energy.
One of the other great opportunities we see emerging, and which will be a major focus for businesses and building owners with power-critical needs, is the cogeneration market.
The growth of this market opportunity is directly linked to the rising pressure on legacy power generation and transmission systems which are simply not able to keep up with the growing demand during peak times for power across the national grid.
Most of the cogeneration opportunities in the market are to do with the need for highly reliable and high volume generator back-up systems being used to protect major businesses and commercial building owners from blackouts or brownouts during peak load times. There is an enormous window for growth in this peak load and ‘lopping’ sector.
O’Donnell Griffin has had recent projects completed in this sector, including contracts at Sydney’s state of the art YHA development at The Rocks, and for a large financial institution at the Docklands in Melbourne.
Another boon for this particular sector is the focus on the way that a cogeneration system is able to provide clean power which assists in the ‘Green Star’ assessment of the building – such merits will become increasingly important, especially with draft legislation (BEED) forcing commercial building owners to report on the energy efficiency of their operations or face stiff penalties.
However, perhaps an unrecognised potential of these larger, cleaner, greener cogeneration systems is the ability of buildings to ultimately be self-generating in their energy needs
David Rafter has been Chief Executive, O’Donnell Griffin since 2009. Prior to this appointment, he held Chief Executive and GM roles with Norfolk Group’s mechanical engineering division – Haden. David holds a Master of Business Administration from Charles Sturt University, a Masters of Building Services Design Science from the University of Sydney, and is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
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