Former Origin Energy chief, and a long time critic of renewables, Grant King appears to have had a ‘Road to Damascus’ moment, after being appointed as chair of the board of wind and solar developer CWP Renewables.
King has historically been a strident critic of strong renewable energy policies, both in his role as the head of energy giant Origin Energy, as well as a subsequent position as president of the Business Council of Australia, including calling for reductions to the federal Renewable Energy Target and consistently attributed rising electricity prices to the growth of renewable energy uptake.
King also once dismissed large-scale solar as merely ‘panels in paddocks‘.
King has been appointed as chair of CWP’s Australian division, with the group’s seperate global division developing ambitious plans for a 15GW Asian Renewables Hub in Western Australia.
More recently, King was appointed to oversee a review of the Morrison government’s emissions reduction policies, recommending that the Emissions Reduction Fund, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation all be opened up to provide funding to carbon capture and storage projects, and potentially paying for upgrades to fossil fuel generators.
The appointment of King as chair of one of Australia’s larger renewable energy project developers follows significant investment in CWP Renewables by Swiss investment manager Partners Group, which saw the two companies effectively merge their two Australian generation portfolios.
CEO of CWP Renewables, Jason Willoughby said the company was excited about the appointment of King to chair the company’s board, and the opportunities to leverage King’s experience in the energy sector.
“We are thrilled to have Grant King lead the CWPR Board and be able to leverage his deep industry knowledge and experience in building platform-scale energy businesses, acquired over his 20 years at Origin Energy,” Willoughby said.
“In the short term, we will be focused on financing and building a further 400MW at our Uungula project in addition to 30MW of battery storage at our Sapphire Wind Farm. Grant’s appointment will assist the CWPR team in unlocking our next growth phase.”
CWP’s Australian chapter currently has 3.5GW of new wind and solar projects under development in New South Wales, and will look to take advantage of the opportunities being created in the state by the NSW government’s moves to establish at least three new renewable energy zones, and attracting at least 12GW of new generation capacity over the next decade.
CWP’s Global now operates separately from CWP Renewables, to focus on opportunities in an emerging global hydrogen market, and is one of the leading backers of the ambitious Asian Renewables Hub plan, that proposes to build 15GW, and as much as 26GW of wind and solar projects in Western Australia, along with hydrogen production facilities that the company will seek to export into the Asian region.
King said that he would be looking to help drive the expansion of the CWP Renewables business in Australia.
“I am delighted to be joining CWP Renewables and working with the management team and Partners Group to further expand the platform and be more innovative around their product offering,” King said.
“CWPR is now well positioned to be a market leader in the provision of reliable, reasonably priced, low emissions electricity solutions.”
The new appointment will see King oversee one of Australia’s larger developers of large-scale wind and solar projects. King already serves as chair of the board of carbon and environmental offsets producer GreenCollar, as well as the Australian chapter of global bank HSBC.