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Australian tech billionaire Cannon-Brookes’ battery storage fund achieves first closing


Australian infrastructure fund manager Infradebt has made the first close of its Energy Transition Fund (ETF) dedicated to investing in large-scale battery storage projects around the country.

Infradebt did not disclose financial terms of the closing, but said the ETF will provide senior debt financing to between six and eight grid-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) projects totalling 1.5GW to 2GW “over the next few years”.

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The fund’s capital investors include Grok Ventures, a private investment company owned by Mike Cannon-Brookes, the billionaire co-CEO of software company Atlassian.

Cannon-Brookes is a vocal proponent of clean energy technologies and is perhaps best known in industry circles for a 2017 Twitter conversation with Tesla CEO Elon Musk that led to the origination of the Hornsdale Power Reserve grid-scale battery project in South Australia.

The tech magnate’s recent climate crisis-fighting plans have included attempts to buy out large generator companies to get their coal plants closed. Infradebt noted in its announcement of the ETF’s first closing that its targeted investment size would be equivalent in gigawatts to a large coal power plant, effectively approaching the same problem of replacing coal from a different angle.

Infradebt did reveal the names of the first two BESS projects it is investing into with the ETF: the 100MW/200MWh Capital Battery, in development in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) by French renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) Neoen, and the 50MW/100MWh Bouldercombe BESS in Queensland, which is a project underway through Australian developer Genex Power.

Both are scheduled to come online during 2023 and are currently under construction, with Infradebt the sole financier of Bouldercombe.

Along with Grok Ventures, the fund is financed by investment advisory group Jana’s Jana Diversified Infrastructure Trust as well as existing Infradebt investors. Infradebt has financed 43 renewable energy and decarbonised real estate assets to date and also manages an “ethically screened infrastructure debt fund”.

“Grid-scale batteries, and energy storage more generally, is a key element to facilitating the orderly and rapid decarbonisation of the grid,” Infradebt CEO Alexander Austin said.

“Decarbonisation requires the rapid buildout of wind and solar and dispatchable grid-scale storage to allow the matching of supply and demand on a 24x7x365 basis. ETF will play a role in providing finance to allow a more rapid roll out of battery projects.”’ publisher Solar Media will host the 1st Energy Storage Summit Asia, 11-12 July 2023 in Singapore. The event will help give clarity on this nascent, yet quickly growing market, bringing together a community of credible independent generators, policymakers, banks, funds, off-takers and technology providers. For more information, go to the website.

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