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Australia: Former CEFC chief heads BESS platform with claimed 1.6GW development pipeline

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A new grid-scale battery storage development platform has launched in Australia with Oliver Yates, former CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), as its chairman.  

This morning (24 January) private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners announced the establishment of the new entity, Valent Energy, which it has formed in partnership with energy sector investor BW ESS. Valent Energy will invest in, develop and own grid-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) assets across Australia.

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Gaw Capital claimed the pair has 1.6GW pipeline of projects already in development, pooling the development assets of their respective businesses. That includes three projects that have already received development and grid connection approvals, totalling 610MW in the states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW).

Gaw Capital and BW ESS intend to collectively invest AU$2 billion in the construction of the projects, as well as into growing and advancing its pipeline of earlier stage developments.

Gaw Capital Partners has claimed US$33.7 billion of assets under management. It has been active in the Australian renewable energy and BESS markets since forming a joint venture (JV) with and making an investment into developer Maoneng Renewables in October 2022. In doing so, it added the developer’s projects including Mornington BESS, a 240MW/480MWh project in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, into its own pipeline.

Mornington BESS is one of the three already-approved projects referred to by Gaw in today’s announcement. The other two are the 250MW Pine Lodge project and 120MW Apsley project. Both appear to be in development by ACEnergy, which got local government approval in June last year for Apsley, sited within New South Wales’ planned Central West-Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).

BW ESS meanwhile was formed in 2021 as a subsidiary of shipping, maritime infrastructure and energy company BW Group. Its interests in the BESS sector include investment in UK-headquartered developer Penso Power, and has 400MWh of assets currently under construction.

Valent Energy’s pipeline features seven battery storage projects in total and one large-scale solar PV plant. Along with the above three BESS projects for which contracts are being finalised ahead of construction, its remaining three are expected to secure their connection approvals early in 2025, Gaw claimed.

Former CEFC chief: ‘Moment could not be timelier’

Oliver Yates, inaugural chief executive of the CEFC when it was formed in 2012 with an AU$10 billion remit to invest in clean energy technologies and projects, was appointed by Gaw Capital Partners in December 2023 to head up its climate-tech strategy in Australia.

“With the rollout of substantial government policy to support battery projects, and the record periods of negative prices during daytime solar floods, the moment could not be timelier for Valent to build large-scale batteries,” Yates said.

In an article for our quarterly journal PV Tech Power (Vol.37), Stephanie Bashir of consultancy Nexa Advisory wrote of the urgent need Australia has to invest in large-scale battery storage, along with other technologies including distributed solar, batteries and transmission infrastructure, if it is to be successful in transitioning from fossil fuels while keeping electricity costs and the network itself manageable.

Bashir noted that there have been many positive developments, including the launch of the federal Capacity Investment Scheme (CIS), through which Australia’s states are tendering for firm renewable energy capacity i.e., renewables-plus-storage.

These will be among the factors pulling in private investors such as Gaw and BW ESS to the Australian market, but as Bashir wrote in her article, many see that the need – and opportunity – stretch out further.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 1st Energy Storage Summit Australia, on 21-22 May 2024 in Sydney, NSW. Featuring a packed programme of panels, presentations and fireside chats from industry leaders focusing on accelerating the market for energy storage across the country. For more information, go to the website.

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