Battery and storage hopeful Lyon Infrastructure puts unit into administration

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Lyon puts unit into voluntary administration after dispute with US hedge fund manager Magnetar, but says it still working towards major solar and storage projects.

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The Ballarat Battery Energy Storage System. Source: Spotless Group.
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The ambitious large scale solar and battery storage developer Lyon Infrastructure says it has placed one of its units into voluntary administration following a legal spat with one of its investors – but insists its broad plans will still go ahead.

In a statement on Monday, in response to enquiries by RenewEconomy, Lyon said it had appointed Deloitte as voluntary administrator to one of its entities, Lyon Infrastructure Investments 1 Pty Ltd, and that entity’s subsidiaries, “in order to facilitate a recapitalisation of that entity.”

It insisted that the other entities in the Lyon Group are unaffected, as are its plans for “dispatchable solar peaker” projects, including a new solar and storage project near Cooktown in north Queensland, and other projects in Victoria (Nowingi) and South Australia (Riverland).

“The appointment of the voluntary administrators allows a pathway for development of Lyon’s tranche 1 fully integrated large dispatchable solar peaker projects to proceed to financial close,” it said.

Lyon has been involved in two major legal spats – one with US solar module manufacturer and solar farm developer First Solar, and the second with US hedge fund manager Magnetar.

As we reported in February, Magnetar – which had been brought in as a significant investor to underpin Australia’s Lyon Solar ambitious solar and storage plans – sought to wind up the Lyon Infrastructure units.

Magnetar owns 25 per cent of Lyon Solar, one of the units put into administration, buying the shareholding two years ago as part of a deal to help finance Lyon’s plans to build at least 1GW of large scale solar and battery storage in South Australia and Victoria. 

At the time, Lyon said the dispute was over failed efforts to negotiate the exit of Magnetar because of a “lack of alignment” on business strategies.

Lyon had also been sued in late 2017 by First Solar, that also sought the winding up of a Lyon Group unit. That dispute has now moved to confidential arbitration.

Lyon has since sought and won the backing of Japanese energy giant JERA, and a partnership with US-based battery storage manufacturer Fluence.

Its immediate focus is to build the Cape York Battery Power Plant, which it has said will be completed later this year. It will comprise a a 55MW solar farm and a 20MW/80MWh battery storage unit from Fluence, competing with traditional gas and diesel generators to act as a “solar peaking” plant and sell electricity into the grid in periods of high demand.

Lyon said in February it is “progressing towards” securing its generator performance standard for Lyon’s large solar plus battery storage projects at Riverland (in South Australia and Nowingi in Victoria.

A spokesman said in an emailed statement on Monday: “Lyon’s tranche 1 projects have taken significant steps toward financial close over the past six months – in particular their connection and offtake arrangements – and continue to have the strong support of the project stakeholders including Lyon’s co-development partner JERA.”

 

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