South Australia-based Yates Electrical Group is set to embark on the development of up to 20MW of small solar farms across South Australia and Victoria, off the back of a new deal with investment fund Sustainable Energy Infrastructure.
Yates said on Monday that it had signed a long-term deal with SEI to develop, own, operate and sell the energy from a portfolio of mid-large scale solar farm projects in regional Australia.
The first phase of the partnership will establish 20MW of solar farms over the coming 18 months, with the first two projects in South Australia expected to commence construction this side of Christmas.
Yates said the first projects would include a 4MW site in Renmark and a 2MW development in Bowmans, both of which already have development approval, allowing works on the sites to begin immediately. One of the advantages of small solar farms under 5MW is that they can dodge some of the strict connection requirements for bigger solar farms.
Yates, based in Renmark in South Australia’s Riverland region, has plenty of experience in the construction of small solar farms, having developed more than 80 projects in the sub 5MW market.
As RenewEconony’s sister site One Step Off The Grid has reported, the electrical services company began its Red Mud Green Energy development project three years ago with the first 187kW commercial farm joining the electricity grid in September 2016.
Since then it has built scores of projects up to 1MW in size, about 80 per cent of which have been in the Riverland region, with some in other parts of South Australia, including the Eyre Peninsula and the Mid North.
Last year, Yates Group managing director Mark Yates said those farms had delivered between 14 and 19 per cent return on investment for clients by selling the energy and the LGCs (large-scale generation certificates) on the National Electricity Market.
The company manages 100 per cent of its own renewable energy generation offtake into the National Electricity Market through its YES Energy Retail business.
In comments this week, Yates described the new partnership with SEI, which is managed by Whitehelm Capital on behalf of a consortium of Australian superannuation funds, as an exciting long-term strategic relationship with great potential.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with SEI to build and operate a portfolio of distributed solar assets across regional Australia,” Yates said.
“This deal is right in the sweet spot for YES Group, leveraging our high-voltage and construction expertise along with our YES Energy capability to manage the sale of energy, ultimately through to the end consumers.
“We share SEI’s commitment to local communities and welcome both the job creation and job certainty which is underpinned by this investment.”
In turn, SEI described the pairing with YES Group “a strong fit” considering the two companies’ shared philosophy on risk, safety, quality and environmental and social values.
“We look forward to working with … YES Group to deliver a portfolio of efficient energy solutions with a strong focus on sustainability and supporting local communities, consistent with SEI and Whitehelm Capital’s approach to responsible investment,” said Saji Anantakrishnan, Whitehelm’s head of Australia and Asia.
“The partnership between SEI and YES Group is typical of our mid-market infrastructure strategy, which focuses on building long-term complementary partnerships with experienced industry counterparties to ensure strong value creation through an identified pipeline of growth opportunities.”