Australia’s renewable energy landscape may be clouded by political uncertainty, but Tony Sennitt believes that it is technology which will win, at the end of the day, over politics.
Sennitt is the founder and chief executive of unlisted Melbourne-based Diamond Energy, which develops and delivers low carbon footprint energy under the company motto of “from generation to market.”
From his background as an engineer and a scientist, Sennitt’s perspective is that renewable energy technology is improving in performance at the same time as it decreases in cost, creating an irresistible momentum for change.
“The way the structure of the industry is evolving we are seeing rapidly decreasing costs in industries such as solar,” says Sennitt.
“We are seeing people and business saying they want to produce their own energy and consume their own energy first, and that is not just households with solar, it is buildings with co-generation and industries such as the wood industry with biomass.”
Founded in 2004 by former employees of US company Duke Energy, Diamond Energy’s business model is to produce and distribute low cost green energy to its customers.
Using a proprietary process technology, Diamond Energy is able to analyse the commercial potential of low carbon and renewable energy projects through understanding the relationship between long term cost and linked energy consumption.
In addition to creating a number of renewable projects around Australia, from biogas to cogeneration and solar, Diamond Energy is also a retailer of low carbon footprint energy through its Diamond Retail.
Projects include two 1.1 MW sewage gas to electricity projects for Goulburn Valley Water in Victoria, one of which was an integral part of the winning United Nations World Environment Day award in 2010.
Diamond Energy is also active in the area of wave energy, and was the initial developer of a project at Port Fairy in Victoria which was sold to BioPower . That project recently received $5 million in funding from the Victorian Government, and Diamond Energy is still involved as a minority shareholder.
“We also have several building projects in the pipeline through our involvement with different property groups” says Sennitt.
“With them, we did the renewable energy fit-out at the new ANZ bank in Melbourne, which involved wind, co-generation and 134kw of solar, and connecting all that to the grid.”
The connection has delivered a potential pipeline of property projects, and Sennitt says Diamond Energy is continually evaluating a range of renewable developments around the country.
While the total generation capacity at the moment is around 3MW, the company’s goal is to take that to around 50MW over the next few years.
“The renewable energy model sits very well with a distributed or embedded generation model and we think it has a great future here in Australia,” says Sennitt.
“Our vision has always been generation to market, and that means we are able to incorporate development, generation and retailing within our model.”
With the help of Wholesale Investor, Diamond Energy successfully completed a capital raising in 2011, and those funds are being used to continue to grow the company.
“The energy industry is very capital intensive but as you build up your capability you can increase your returns,” says Tony Sennitt.
For the future, Diamond Energy is pondering options such as a partial float on an appropriate stock exchange. The company’s goal is to increase its equity value to around $100 million over the next three years.
“But whatever happens we will continue to build on the opportunities we have built, and which are continuing to build right now,” says Sennitt.
To know more about Diamond Energy, please click here.