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Equis $400 Million Solar Investment for Australia

Equis Energy, Asia’s largest independent renewable-energy developer and investor, has expanded into Australia with two solar projects costing A$400 million (S$427.66 million), with plans for more down the road.

The two projects by the Singapore-headquartered group will have a total generation capacity of 200 megawatts.

When completed, they will be among Australia’s lowest-cost solar projects, said the chief executive of Equis, David Russell.

Both plants will be designed to enable the use of large-scale battery-storage solutions, which enhances their long-term attractiveness as stable, low-cost sources of power, he added.

Battery-storage solutions make it possible for renewable-energy systems to supply power even when the sun is not shining or on windless days.

Mr Russell told The Business Times last year that such solutions had been deemed too expensive, but that technology has now advanced sufficiently to start changing this.

Equis has signed a power-purchase agreement to supply solar power to Australian energy generation and retailing firm Snowy Hydro Limited for at least 22 years.

It will build a 100 megawatt solar project near Tailem Bend in South Australia, alongside a 28.8 megawatt diesel-fired power station to be owned by Snowy Hydro.

By developing the solar and diesel projects together, “the combined system will have the capability of providing stable power any time of the day through the year,” said Mr Russell.

The Tailem Bend project will also provide some of the cheapest solar power in Australia, with the price of electricity from the two projects expected to be about 40 per cent lower than the prevailing market price in South Australia.

Separately, the group has obtained approval to develop a 100 megawatt solar project in Collinsville North in Queensland; it will be built on land near the Collinsville North substation.

Together, both projects to be developed entirely by Equis will supply power to 63,165 homes, and save 397,400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year – the equivalent of removing 83,860 passenger cars from the roads.

The group plans to do even more in the country.

It has secured land rights for 2,000 ha of land, which it says will pave the way for an additional 1,000 megawatt of large-scale solar projects to be built in the near future.

The two projects bring the number of renewable energy projects under development and construction by Equis to 49.

The largest independent infrastructure fund manager in Asia has US$2.7 billion (S$3.81 billion) of funds; of this amount, it has allocated US$2.4 billion toward renewable energy.

The group has built up a portfolio of 3.6 gigawatts of renewable energy projects across Asia.

It has a presence in Thailand (for solar energy), India (solar, wind, hydro), the Philippines (solar, wind, hydro) and Japan (solar and wind).

Aside from Australia, Equis is also moving into Indonesia and Taiwan.

Mr Russell told BT last year that Asia is the fastest-growing market for renewable energy.

Between 2015 and 2020, the region will install about 494 gigawatts, representing growth of 74 per cent; this is 51/2 times the growth expected in the US, and 2.9 times that in Europe.

This also means some US$166 billion in funds will be needed each year, he said.

BP, in its annual energy outlook released last week, has predicted that renewable energy will be the fastest-growing energy source in the next two decades.

It will make up 10 per cent of primary energy by 2035, up from 3 per cent in 2015, said the oil major.

Its group chief economist Spencer Dale said: “Rapid improvements in the competitiveness of renewable energy mean that increases in renewables, together with nuclear and hydro energy, will provide around half the increase in global energy out to 2035.”


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