Swiss investment manager closes first Australian solar project

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Swiss investment firm SUSI Partners has realized its first investment in Australia, having allocated around $50 million to acquire and finance the construction of a large-scale solar farm in Queensland.

The 34 MW Middlemount solar project is developed by Overland Sun Farming, around 1km east from the town of Middlemount in central Queensland and in close proximity to the Ergon Energy 132 kV substation.

SUSI Partners says this is the largest solar plant in its portfolio, which after this acquisition counts 15 solar plants with a total installed capacity of 165 MW, and among its largest investments outside Europe.

“This investment represents an important step in the internationalization of SUSI’s investment remit and the first investment into the Australian market, which we deem highly attractive for clean energy infrastructure investments, despite the recent energy policy uncertainties,” Marco van Daele, Chief Investment Officer of SUSI Partners.

The announcement closely follows the second big solar investments by U.K.-based John Laing confirming the appetite of international investors, although on the official charts, such as Ernst & Young’s RECAI, Australia has already slipped down one position, citing “political upheaval” in the energy sector.

The Middlemount solar project has an option to add a battery storage component at a later stage, which the Swiss investor will considered as a potential follow-on transaction.

“This project is a high-quality and strategic investment for SUSI. It positions our funds in a market with large potential to add further decentralized, clean power generation and energy solutions including storage and it represents an important diversification factor for our growing portfolio,” Matteo Zanni, Vice President at SUSI, said.

SUSI Partners says it is actively pursuing several additional projects under exclusive terms in Australia via its SUSI Energy Storage Fund, which had its final close in June 2018 at €252 million ($285 million).

As we reported earlier here, SUSI Partners has also backed the Dunsborough Community Energy Project, a community-owned, privately-funded VPP that is taking shape in Western Australia.

According to the people behind the project, SUSI is providing an initial investment of $12.5 million, thus making it possible for the participants to avoid paying the equipment and installation up-front.