Gillard to chair new multi-billion dollar energy fund targeting wind, solar and batteries

Julia Gillard August 2023
AAP Image/Roy Vandervergt

Former prime minister Julie Gillard – whose term featured the creation of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the now defunct carbon price – has been named as chair of a new multi-billion green energy fund.

Gillard will take the helm of the Energy Transition Fund that will be launched by HMC Capital in coming months, and which will seek up to $2 billion from institutional and wholesale investors to build a massive 15 gigawatt portfolio of wind, solar and battery projects, along with bio-fuels and other emerging technologies.

HMC Capital is a listed asset manager that has mostly focused on the real estate business, but managing director and CEO David Di Pilla believes there is an investment opportunity in energy transition “which has not yet been properly defined for investors, let alone captured.”

Di Pilla says he is delighted “that a person of Julia Gillard’s global standing and experience has agreed to chair our new fund in this sector.

“She brings deep insights, policy experience and relationships which will be invaluable to HMC as we launch
and then grow the Energy Transition Fund.”

Gillard was prime minister for three years and three days, from 2010 to 2013, and led the government in the first hung parliament in the country for 70 days.

She cut a deal with the Greens and two country independents and pushed through the Clean Energy Package that included the carbon price, later ditched by the Tony Abbott-led Coalition, along with the CEFC, ARENA, and the Climate Change Authority, all of which survived Coalition attacks.

The chair of the new energy transition fund is possibly Gillard’s most prominent role since becoming chair of Beyond Blue, and comes as the current Labor government targets an 82 per cent renewables target by 2030, and the Coalition vows once again to try and stop the roll out of wind, solar and now battery storage.

Earlier this year, HMC appointed Angela Karl to be CEO of its new energy transition team, which now numbers four executives. Karl is a former partner with QIC, and has been a director of Powering Australian Renewables, now known as Tilt, and Pacific Energy.

Di Pilla says the company is already in due diligence “across a number of investment opportunities” that will form the basis of a seed portfolio of assets.

“Over the medium term, the Energy Transition Fund, will aim to build a portfolio of 15GW across the energy value chain and will take an innovative approach to managing market and contracting risk through partnerships with leading commercial & industrial energy users.”

The company says its fund raising will commence in the second half of this year.

Gillard said that as prime minister she had devoted “a great deal of my and my government’s energy” into fighting climate change.

“This new role is a continuation of that commitment,” she said in a statement. “(The fund’s) design and HMC’s investment management capabilities will position the Fund to be a genuine driver of Australia’s transition to zero net carbon by 2050.

“It is in our nation’s interests to better harness our abundant opportunities in solar, wind and other renewable
sources of energy. In addition, our nation has made commitments to the world on combatting climate
change, which we need to honour.

“To create a clean energy future we must urgently unlock the full potential of private investment and business acumen.”

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