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Aware Super charges its energy transition portfolio

18 October 2023
 

A new investment platform backed by Aware Super with a pipeline of fast-deployment renewable energy and storage assets will help support Australia’s sustainable transition to a clean-energy future.

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Battery energy storage systems can play a critical role in the clean-energy transition.

Aware Super has partnered with Birdwood Energy to create the nation’s newest distributed renewable energy platform aimed at developing renewable and battery energy storage system (BESS) solutions to support Australia’s energy transition. 

Aware Super Head of Infrastructure Mark Hector said the fund’s direct investment into the Birdwood Distributed Energy Platform would complement its existing $2-plus billion investments in utility-scale wind and solar generation assets and other climate solutions.

“An investment in the Birdwood Distributed Energy Platform is not only consistent with our strategy to increase our exposure to energy transition through diversification into distributed renewable energy generation and storage, it is also aligned with our objective of generating strong risk-adjusted returns for Aware Super members, which can be achieved through the deployment of further capital into sustainable investments,” he said.

“This opportunity provides our members with a unique entry point into a platform with a strong pipeline of small-scale, fast-deployment renewable energy and storage assets, with BESS being a critical technology in supporting our nation’s sustainable transition to a clean energy future.

“The AEMO has forecast the need for 46GW of dispatchable storage by 2050 to provide stability to the grid as intermittent renewable generation is developed. With only 2.7GW of energy storage in the NEM, the proposition of the Birdwood platform is compelling for our members.”

Birdwood Energy founder and CEO Scott McGregor said the team was thrilled to welcome Aware Super as the sole institutional investor for its latest distributed energy platform.

“Distributed energy is difficult for institutional investors to access due to the multitude of small developers and companies,” he said.

“While this sector offers the cheapest, most secure and cleanest energy system, it does require investment at scale in order to achieve capital and operating efficiencies and hit our net zero targets – with distributed energy we are able to fulfil about 60% of Australia’s future energy requirement.

“With Aware Super’s capital and support, we look forward to helping make Australia a world leader in the deployment of distributed energy resources.”

Mr McGregor said the platform’s acquisition strategy will focus on late-stage developments, ready-to-build projects and equity investments in businesses to scale and accelerate distributed energy.

The project pipeline is expected to be composed of a significant number of small-scale distributed solar projects across the NEM fitted with BESS as well as larger strategic projects.

Mr McGregor said due to the focus on small-scale solar and BESS projects, the grid connection process can be streamlined, resulting in a more rapid deployment profile to support the energy transition.

He also added the platform would service retail, commercial and industrial customers via offtake agreements.

“We are well positioned to execute trades that capture value for the platform and its customers from the widening spreads in intra-day pricing, with our management team’s expertise and experience in BESS in both Australia and the UK central to meeting commercial objectives.”

The Birdwood Distributed Energy Platform has already purchased two operating solar farms which it is enhancing with BESS, invested in a commercial renewable asset finance business and has a further 10 grid solar and battery projects it is getting ready to construct.

Mr Hector also highlighted the depth of commercial and technical experience of the Birdwood management team.

“With combined experience of circa 4.1GW – or US$6 billion – of renewable and energy storage projects, we are excited to support Scott McGregor and Graeme Ludlow, who are focused on achieving their vision of ensuring the energy infrastructure in Australia gets to Net Zero as fast as possible,” he said.

“This is a compelling opportunity to deliver strong long-term returns for our members while also making a contribution to meeting our nation’s renewable energy needs.”

 

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