‘Well short’: Canadian fund flags REZ risks, costs and offtake woes as causing Australian underinvestment


A culmination of Australia’s high equipment costs, limited workforce, soaring insurance premiums, hesitant customers and its energy transition strategy based on renewable energy zones have led Canadian infrastructure fund, Omers, to fall short of its renewable investment goals here.

According to the company’s managing director, Kevork Sahagian, the company had “grand ambitions” for renewable investment in Australia, but has found the landscape for renewables tricky.

“We’ve intentionally stayed away from the [Renewable Energy Zones]… we see a lot of risk in some of the delays. We’d prefer to focus on opportunities where we can control our own destiny,” Sahagian told the Australian Financial Review Infrastructure Summit in Sydney.

Location map of FRV Australia’s projects, spanning both solar and storgae.

Image: FRV Australia

Omers bought a 49% stake in FRV Australia in 2021, a solar and storage developer behind a number of major projects here. Although the company continues to work on projects, currently developing the 250 MW / 500 MWh Gnarwarre battery and the 100 MW / 200 MWh Terang Battery in Victoria, the landscape in Australia has left Omers wanting. 

Specifically, Sahagian pointed to rising interest rates, difficulties finding equipped engineering contractors and, on the flip side, customers willing to commit to power purchasing agreements (PPAs) as reasons why FRV Australia is struggling to close investments.

Compounding this, Sahagian said, was soaring insurance premiums and more expensive equipment costs in Australia.

FRV Australia is jointly owned by Omers and United Arab Emirates-based Abdul Latif Jameel Energy.

In 2022, FRV Australia reached financial close on its 300 MW (AC) Walla Walla Solar Farm in the Riverina region of New South Wales (NSW). That year, it also completed its third Australian solar project, the 100 MW (AC) Lilyvale solar farm in Queensland.

FRV’s Australian portfolio includes the 125 MW Clare Solar Farm in northern Queensland and the 106 MW Winton Solar Farm in Victoria. It also includes the 69.75 MW Goonumbla and 56 MW Moree solar farms in NSW. 

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