The soon-to-be-former owners of CWP Renewables, Swiss asset manager Partners Group, announced on Wednesday December 7 it would be selling the company to the Forrest family’s Squadron Energy.
The deal will see Squadron take control of CWP Renewables’ portfolio which has 1.1 GW of operational assets, as well as 5 GW of near-medium term projects and an additional 15 GW at an early stage of development.
The deal is a major play for billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, who is among the world’s loudest green hydrogen enthusiasts, placing him now squarely in the fray of Australia’s grid decarbonisation – a transition increasingly looking like it will be directed by a handful of powerful billionaires. Following the acquisition, Squadron will have an operating renewables portfolio of 2.4 GW, with a further 20 GW in the development pipeline.
Forrest is framing the deal as a win for Australian interests, saying “Squadron is proud to bring a very significant portion of Australia’s renewable energy assets home to local ownership.”
“It means that Squadron has the renewable energy critical mass to help Australia step beyond fossil fuels,” Forrest said, playing into the undercurrent of concern around foreign ownership of energy assets.
Squadron’s bid for CWP Renewables, previously unreported on, won out against more publicised plays from Spanish company Iberdrola, one of the biggest utilities in the world; Tilt Renewables, owned by Queensland Investment Corporation and AGL Energy; as well as a bid from Origin Energy and its Canadian pension fund partner CDPQ.
CWP Renewables is the Australian outfit for CWP, though CWP Renewables and CWP Global are today two separated entities. The Swiss Partners Group has been increasing its stake in CWP Renewables over the last years, before merging its own platform with CWP Renewables in 2020.
Delivering to Australia’s C&I sector
Squadron seems to be leaning into CWP Renewables history of delivering power to some of Australia’s major commercial and industrial players, including Woolworths Group, Commonwealth Bank, Snowy Hydro, Transurban and Sydney Airport.
Squadron said CWP Renewables’ imminent integration into the company will give it the necessary scale to meet the “huge demand” from large C&I players for green energy. The focus here will primarily be on Australia’s east coast, with New South Wales and Victoria singled out as having “unparalleled development” unlocked through the deal.
CWP Renewables primarily operates wind assets, including the 270 MW Sapphire Wind Farm, NSW’s largest; Murra Warra I & II with a combined 435 MW; and the 142 MW Crudine Ridge. It also has approvals in place to construct four more wind farms in NSW totalling over 750 MW, along with a construction-ready 414 MW wind farm, 180 MW solar farm, two battery farms and a firming power station.
“With this acquisition, we will develop and operate an extensive geographic portfolio of night and daytime wind, solar and storage assets that will ensure reliability of supply for our customers,” Squadron Energy CEO Eva Hanly said of the deal.
“We are currently building the $3 billion Clarke Creek renewable energy hub in central Queensland, which is the largest grid connected project in the country, and will be commencing construction of another 2GW worth of projects within the next 18 months,” Hanly added.
Once fully operational, Squadron says its portfolio will provide enough electricity to power 8.5 million homes, more than double the number of homes in New South Wales.
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