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Friday, 7 July 2022

One of Australia’s largest ESG investors, Aware Super has made an early move to be part of the nation’s accelerating energy transition.

The fund’s latest move is a recent cornerstone investment into North Harbour Clean Energy (NHCE), which the fund’s managers believe is well positioned amongst an emerging new wave of Australian energy technologies.

Aware Super believes there are opportunities to be had in solving the very real challenge of how a nation as big and energy-hungry as Australia deals with transitioning the nation’s electricity supply. In its most recent Integrated Systems Plan the Australian Energy Market Operator, AEMO, estimates a need for an additional 400GWh of storage by 2030, growing to more than 600GWh by 2050. Based on AEMO’s numbers, NHCE has priced the investment opportunity at $30 billion and $100 billion over the 2030 and 2050 horizons respectively.

Less than five years old, NHCE seeks to identify, develop and operate renewable energy storage projects with a focus on two critical – and already commercial – storage technologies: closed-loop pumped hydro, and vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB).

Rather than the mega-projects pumped hydro is typically associated with, NHCE is taking a unique approach to creating storage assets by focusing on midscale projects, at or near to major loads, to minimise the delivered cost of electricity. In addition, it avoids the worst of the land-use debate by focusing on already disturbed land and utilising existing infrastructure.

With VRFB, the NHCE team is looking to deploy Australian-developed technology sized at industrial up to grid scale into key demand centres. Ultimately it sees a fully Australian-based solution utilising Australianproduced vanadium and local manufacturing of other key components.

NHCE Managing Director, Tony Schultz, says it’s all part of a strategy to focus on accelerating projects to their commercial operations date.

”We know electrifying the Australian economy needs to mean more than simply replacing domestic energy generation with renewables,” Mr Schultz said.

”Declining sources of carbon-intensive dispatchable power, driven by the move to decarbonise electricity generation is the key issue in the electricity market, and is now an increasing part of the discussion.

”Pumped hydro in particular can play a significant role in closing that capacity gap, and we’re very enthusiastic about the opportunities that our project portfolio has the potential to unlock.” 

Aware Super Senior Portfolio Manager, Mark Hector, says NHCE’s proposition fits neatly with the fund’s investment philosophy of seeking to deliver strong long-term returns to its members, at the same time as having a positive impact on communities through its investment strategy. 

“In NHCE we saw an opportunity to support a very early-stage energy storage business, led by a team with excellent credentials in the energy sector, energetically pursuing solutions that can deliver on Eastern Australia’s absolute need for dispatchable, renewable power,” Mr Hector said.

“In addition to providing early working capital, we recognised a significant strategic opportunity to fund larger equity capital into future successful development projects. That presented us with a very attractive opportunity to deliver strong investment performance for our members, at the same time as making a meaningful and practical contribution to the nation’s energy transition.” 

About Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB)

VRFBs are a type of rechargeable flow battery that employs vanadium ions as charge carriers. For several reasons, including the relative bulk of the battery, their application is best suited to grid-energy storage. NHCE sees VRFBs playing a strategic role as a behind-the-meter installation suitable for a variety of industrial applications.

The underlying VRFB technology was first invented at the University of New South Wales in 1983, and patented in 1986.

For further information, contact:

Grant Smith, Head of External Affairs

t:  0422558112


About Aware Super

Aware Super was formed following the merger of First State Super and VicSuper. We are one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds with circa A$150 billion in retirement savings of circa 1.1 million members under our management.

Aware Super is a profit-to-member fund, run solely for the benefit of its members, providing superannuation, retirement products and financial advice to members throughout their lifetime.

Aware Super has a long track record of investing in Victoria. In 2018 we successfully acquired 100% of the Victorian Land Registry (now known as SERV). Since the acquisition we have worked with the State in ensuring the success of this commercialisation, delivering a critical service to Victorians.

About Australian Retirement Trust

Australian Retirement Trust is the super fund formed through the merger of Sunsuper and QSuper.

We’re one of Australia’s largest super funds and proud to take care of over $200 billion in retirement savings for more than two million members. 

As a fund that works for members, not shareholders, we work in members’ best interests, and are committed to returning profits to them as lower fees and better services. 

About Macquarie Asset Management

Macquarie Asset Management is a global asset manager that aims to deliver positive impact for everyone. Trusted by institutions, pension funds, governments, and individuals to manage more than $A773 billion in assets globally, we provide access to specialist investment expertise across a range of capabilities including infrastructure, green investments, real estate, agriculture & natural assets, asset finance, private credit, equities, fixed income and multi asset solutions. 

Macquarie Asset Management is part of Macquarie Group, a diversified financial group providing clients with asset management, finance, banking, advisory and risk and capital solutions across debt, equity, and commodities. Founded in 1969, Macquarie Group employs more than 18,000 people in 33 markets and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. All figures as at 31 March 2022. For more information, please visit