Hong Kong finance fast tracks 1.9 GW battery, solar portfolio in Australia


Sydney-based renewables developer Maoneng has partnered with private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners to secure finance and accelerate the development of more than $2 billion (USD 1.26 billion) of large-scale renewable energy generation and storage projects in Australia.

Gaw Capital Partners confirmed in a statement issued on Wednesday that that it had secured a majority investment in Maoneng’s Australian business through its growth equity arm, Gaw Growth Equity Fund I.

The partnership, Gaw Maoneng Renewables (GMR), will accelerate the development of six grid-scale battery storage and solar power generation projects with a combined total of 1.9 GW. The projects are spread across Victoria, New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia. The new venture is also expected to explore other renewable energy opportunities.

Maoneng co-founder and chief executive officer Morris Zhou, who has been appointed CEO and managing director of GMR, said the transaction would allow for the development of the existing projects to be accelerated.

“We are very excited to partner with Gaw Capital in building out our renewable energy portfolio, including six battery storage projects,” he said.

“The transition to renewable energy in Australia is accelerating under this government’s policy,” Zhou continued, “and batteries are a key piece to the puzzle in facilitating higher grid penetration by solar and wind. The partnership allows us to focus on the job and to get it done sooner.”

The first of the projects will be the 240 MW/480 MWh Mornington battery energy storage system (BESS) being developed in Victoria’s east. The $190 million project has already received development and connection approvals, and construction is expected to start by the first quarter of 2023.

The proposed Merriwa Energy Hub is expected to be operational in 2025.

Image: Maoneng

Other projects include the 225 MW/450 MWh Gould Creek BESS near Adelaide in South Australia, which has also gained development application approval, and the proposed Merriwa Energy Hub, which comprises 550 MW solar farm and a 400 MW/1,600 MWh battery energy storage system to be built in the NSW Hunter region.

Maoneng also has three other battery storage projects on the go in regional NSW, with about with 450 MW/900 MWh of energy storage spread between sites at Lismore, Tamworth and the Sunraysia Solar Farm site near Armidale. Maoneng, which co-owns the 200 MW Sunraysia Solar Farm, has plans to install a 50 MW/100 MWh big battery at the Sunraysia site.

Maoneng also retains ownership of the 13 MW Mugga Lane Solar Park in the Australian Capital Territory which was placed into voluntary administration earlier this year. Maoneng said at the time that the situation at Mugga Lane would not affect it development plans.

The estimated capex for the construction and build out of the portfolio is upwards of $2 billion and will be secured in the form of equity and debt.

Gaw Capital director Herbin Koh said the fund manager’s institutional investors had shown growing interest in the clean energy and ESG space in Asia and Australia.

“We have been looking for some time at a suitable entry into the clean energy investment sector, and utility-scale batteries underpin the dispatchable energy requirements for the grid to transition its mix from coal and gas to renewable energy generation,” Koh said, adding that he expects “this new renewable development and investment platform significantly in the coming years.”

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