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Big deals signal growing interest in solar and buildings materials

Preeti Bajaj, Clipsal Solar
Preeti Bajaj, Clipsal Solar

A couple of interesting big deals this week adds weight to the rising importance of sustainability and the built environment patch.

In one move, CSR said it would see sell its Viridian Glass operation for $155 million, a move that’s been mooted for many months.

And in another, Schneider Electric launched its Schneider Electric Ventures, which “identifies, nurtures and supports innovations contributing to future sustainability and energy efficiency”.

The new venture has committed between 300 and 500 million euros for companies that will contribute to companies that are “more connected, greener, efficient and sustainable”.

Among the first recipients of the investment include eIQ Mobility, a start-up that “enables and accelerates electric mobility at scale by providing ‘electric fleet as a service’ to large commercial fleets and Clipsal Solar, which is dedicated to “on-grid and off-grid solutions for residential and commercial applications in Australia.”

The company made a point of noting Australia’s 1.8 million households now with solar panels with another 134,000 forecast to be added by 2021 as part of the logic for the investment.

A third venture is Greentown Labs Bold Ideas Challenge in partnership with Greentown Labs, which is focused on “fast-tracking entrepreneurs with the mentors, team members, grants of $25,000 and business and technical resources” needed for a range of approved ventures, CSR said in a statement.

Clipsal Solar chief executive Preeti Bajaj told The AFR that the new venture was conducting pilot testing in both South Australia and NSW and was preparing to enter the market in March or April next year.

Ms Bajaj said the market was “crying out for a trusted, independent entity able to analyse real-time data and advise households on cutting their power bills and making sure their homes were future-proofed as technology shifted fast. It won’t be selling solar panels though,” she said.

“It’s almost like your energy partner. It is more of an analytics data company.”

There were competitors in the one stop shop side approach to solar she said but Clipsal’s known brand was an advantage.

Viridian Glass was represented at The Fifth Estate’s Tomorrowland 2017 as a part of the “Materials Inquisition” to explain what it was doing to become more sustainable given the strong preference of corporate clients to maximise views and natural light. How to make glass more sustainable is far from easy, but the launch of a product in Taipei that claims to quickly tint glass to save on glare and energy is promising.

Buyer of the Viridian business is Crescent Capital Partners, which will take possession of Viridian’s Dandenong operations in outer eastern Melbourne, and lease the company’s Sydney premises at Ingleburn.

CSR plans to sell that property after the Crescent deal is completed, subject to a long term lease to Viridian, bringing in another $60 million for a total of $215 million.

CSR managing director Rob Sindel said in a statement: “This transaction will enable Viridian to align its footprint and cost structure to operate more effectively as a standalone business.

“Viridian operates the only float glass manufacturing line in Australia and New Zealand as well as downstream glass processing operations. Following a strategic review announced in July 2018, the board came to the view that the funds employed in the Viridian business would generate better future returns for CSR shareholders if they were invested in its core building products business,” the CSR statement said.

Clipsal Solar chief executive Preeti Bajaj told The AFR that said the new venture was conducting pilot testing in both South Australia and NSW and was preparing to enter the market in March or April next year.

Ms Bajaj said the market was “crying out for a trusted, independent entity able to analyse real-time data and advise households on cutting their power bills and making sure their homes were future-proofed as technology shifted fast. It won’t be selling solar panels though.

“It’s almost like your energy partner. It is more of an analytics data company,” she said.

There were competitors in the one stop shop side approach to solar, she said, but Clipsal’s known brand was an advantage.

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One Response to “Big deals signal growing interest in solar and buildings materials”

  • Sushma Bajaj says:

    Hoping to hear from you soon on your project in India . It needs a big break in solar energy . Congratulations .

    Sushma

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