February 23, 2021 Read More →

Australia’s Spark Infrastructure buys rights for 1.5GW of new green energy projects

Renew Economy:

Poles and wires owner Spark Infrastructure has continued its foray into generation, purchasing development rights to a string of new renewable energy projects with a collective capacity of 1.5 gigawatts.

The announcement comes after the company opened its first 100 megawatt solar farm last year. Spark says it has earmarked $1.15 billion to invest in new solar, wind and battery projects, and is even having “a look at” green hydrogen.

Chief executive Rick Francis said the company had paid for the development rights, but had made no final commitment to go ahead with any of the new projects. He said the final decisions could be months away.

Until recently Spark was exclusively an investor in transmission and distribution. It owns 49 per cent of South Australia’s distribution network operator SA Power Networks, a 15 per cent stake in transmission network operator Transgrid in NSW, and a 49 per cent stake in Victorian distribution operators Powercor and CitiPower.

But as the nation moves rapidly away from concentrated baseload power plants towards less centralised renewable generation, Spark decided to get a piece of the action through the Bomen Solar Farm, a 100 megawatt project near Wagga Wagga in NSW which it built from scratch. The solar farm, which is wholly-owned by Spark, started feeding energy into the grid in June last year.

Francis gave no details on where or what the next pipeline of renewable projects will be, but confirmed the rights had been bought, and that Spark intended to be the controlling stakeholder. But he added the projects would be expensive, and so he would be open to bringing in other investors. “As we look at some of those other projects that are in the hopper, they are quire large individually, and should they move ahead they would require quite substantial capital commitment,” he said.

[James Fernyhough]

More: Network owner Spark ramps up generation plans with 1.5GW of solar, wind and battery

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