French energy giant Engie has flagged plans to ramp up development of large-scale wind and solar development in Australia via a purpose built investment fund.
Engie Australia New Zealand chief Augustin Honorat said last week the company would partner with one or more parties to underwrite the development of 2GW (2000MW) of large-scale renewables over the coming decade.
This would include the 165MW of wind capacity already completed – including the 119MW Willogoleche wind farm in South Australia – and 800-1000MW of wind and solar it has at various stages in the development pipeline.
Honorat told Reuters in an interview that the fund would cater to what was a “strong” investor appetite and a consumer desire for renewable power.
“There’s a lot to do here because of that energy transition,” he said. And establishing the fund was “a way to grow faster.”
Honorat also noted that Engie sees Australia as one of 20 growth markets globally for expanding in renewables – despite the policy void that currently exists at the federal level. Engie, it should be remembered, was the owner of the Hazelwood brown coal generator that it closed, citing huge costs and its global goal to exit coal generation.
Engie says it is bullish about Australia’s corporate renewables market, where large industrial energy users underwrite new investments in renewable energy at low prices.
Just this week the company signed a renewable energy power offtake deal with the Australian arm of French cosmetics giant L’Oréal, that will take the company to 100 per cent renewables for its Australian operations.
And last month in a much bigger deal, Engie signed a 10-year PPA with a solar farm through its retail arm Simply Energy to supply renewable energy to hundreds of NSW and ACT pubs and hotels.
“This arrangement is designed to combine the retail load of hundreds of hotels and pubs, offering potential savings compared to their existing deals, greater price certainty for 10 years and a link to renewable energy supply to support the energy transition,” Honorat said at the time.
As Michael Mazengarb reported, the deal will lock in wholesale electricity prices for the venues at $69 per MWh for the next 10 years, representing a significant saving on current wholesale electricity prices which have traded above $85 per MWh for the last couple of years, before retailer margins are included.
Honorat would not say which other parties Engie was considering partnering with on the Australian renewables fund, or what size it might be, but he did say it would take a few months to establish.