The $43 billion industry super fund Cbus Super has teamed up with the Dutch Infrastructure Fund to become the major shareholders in a new renewable energy investment company with WA government owned utility Synergy.
The creation of Bright Energy Investments, and its commitment to a 30MW expansion of the Greenough River solar farm, and a new 180MW wind farm, will ensure that Synergy will meet its renewable energy target obligations by 2020.
The creation of the new fund raised objections when first unveiled last November, because it was feared that it would crowd out other private investments – which now feature a growing portfolio of wind and solar projects.
However, the government has made some concessions, agreeing to limit the size of the new Warradarge wind farm to 180MW, rather than the more than 240MW once considered.
Cbus and DIF will each hold 40.05 per cent in the new venture, with Synergy holding 19.9 per cent.
Cbus, which is the industry super fund for the building, construction and allied industries, said the deal was a significant milestone for its new direct infrastructure investment strategy as well as a commitment to addressing climate change.
“The investment is unique in that it also provides opportunities in the transition to a climate resilient economy and enables Cbus to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” Cbus Head of Infrastructure Diana Callebaut said in a statement.
DIF already has invested in three renewable developments in Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.
Cbus is Australia’s leading Industry Super Fund for the building, construction and allied industries, with more than $43 billion of funds under management.
Synergy CEO Jason Waters said the joint venture and the subsequent development of these large scale renewables projects was a significant milestone for Synergy.
“Partnering with DIF and Cbus to develop two new renewable energy projects for Western Australia was the best commercial decision for Synergy and the state,” Synergy CEO Jason Waters said in a statement.
Bright Energy on Tuesday issued an EPC contract to RCR Tomlinson for the 30MW extension for Greenough River, a 10MW facility that was the first large scale solar plant in the country, but one which the then conservative government hoped would be the last, at least in its own state.
Construction on the Greenough solar farm extension will begin immediately, with targeted completion in the second quarter of 2019.
Bright Energy will also refurbish the existing Albany Grasmere Wind Farm, most of which was built way back in 2001, and will also launch the development process for Warradarge.
Giles Parkinson is founder and editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, and is also the founder of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and founder/editor of www.TheDriven.io. Giles has been a journalist for 35 years and is a former business and deputy editor of the Australian Financial Review.