FRV steps up Australia solar and battery plans, with new investment partner

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Saudi-owned Fotowatio Renewable Ventures has sold a major stake in its Australian subsidiary, bringing Canada-based Omers Infrastructure on board to help fast-track and expand its multi-gigawatt pipeline of solar and big battery projects across Australia.

FRV, which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Abdul Latif Jameel Energy, says the deal will give the Canadian pension fund a 49% interest in FRV’s Australian renewable energy platform, including 642MW of operational and under construction solar PV assets, located in strong parts of the NEM.

These included the operational Moree (70MW) and Goonumbla (89MW) solar farms in New South Wales, the Winton solar farm (100MW) in Victoria and Lilyvale solar farm (126MW) in Queensland, also both operational.

Under construction, the portfolio includes the Sebastapol (11MW) and Metz (141MW) solar farms in NSW, as well as the 5MW solar-storage hybrid power plant near Dalby in southern Queensland, which will include 2.4MW of PV and a 2.5MW/5MWh battery.

Further back at various stages in the development pipeline, is roughly 2.7GW of solar projects and 1.3GWh of battery energy storage assets, including the massive 300MW Walla Walla solar farm in southern NSW, which is currently in detailed design after winning development approval late last year.

FRV said on Monday that the deal marks “an important milestone” and “signal of confidence” for the company – which has been operating in the Australian renewables market since 2010 – following a fundraising process started earlier this year.

Omers Infrastructure – which operates as the investment arm of one of Canada’s biggest pension funds – has a stake in Leeward Renewable Energy, which owns and operates a portfolio of 22 projects across nine US states totalling more than 2GW of installed capacity and more in the pipeline.

The investment outfit also owns just under 20% of Azure Power Global Limited, a leading independent renewable power producer in India with an asset base of around 2GW of operational capacity and 5GW under construction or awarded.

“We are delighted to partner with Omers, a leading global energy investor with proven experience in funding renewables development projects,” said FRV CEO Daniel Sagi-Vela in a statement.

“[The partnership] will allow us to combine our collective expertise to drive investment and grow our leading position in solar generation in Australia.”

Carlo Frigerio, managing director of FRV Australia said the partnership would accelerate FRV’s consolidation as one of the renewable energy market leaders in the country and also the expansion of its footprint into new technologies – although which new technologies was not specified.

“We look forward to combining our skills to deliver on Australia’s renewable energy targets and fast track the country’s renewable energy transition,” added Abdul Latif Jameel deputy president and vice chairman, Fady Jameel.

Christopher Curtain, Omers Infrastructure’s senior managing director in Asia-Pacific, said the partnership with FRV Australia was well aligned with its own long-term strategy.

FRV said on Monday that the sale of the 49% stake remained subject to customary regulatory approvals with financial close expected by year end.

Credit Suisse and White & Case acted as exclusive financial and legal advisor to FRV, respectively, while ICA Partners and Herbert Smith Freehills acted as exclusive financial and legal advisor to Omers Infrastructure, respectively.

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