Eurus Energy electrifies renewables investments in Australia

Australia’s abundant renewable energy resources are the envy of many other nations. Large international companies are realising the potential of these resources and investing in their development. One of these companies is Eurus Energy, the largest single investor in wind projects in Japan and a participant in many international markets.

Australia’s natural advantages in renewables

Eurus Energy was one of early entrants into the renewable energy market, first investing in wind farms in the United States in the late 1980s It subsequently expanded into Europe and then Asia-Pacific, including its home country of Japan. In 2012 Eurus Energy entered the Australian market and has invested in renewable energy projects in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. The business has partnered successfully with a local company to deliver innovative project ownership and delivery models.

Eurus Energy is excited by the potential and recent progress of Australia’s renewable energy market. In particular, the business believes that greater certainty was introduced by the Australian Parliament’s June 2015 agreement on reforms to the Renewable Energy Target (RET), which would result in more than 23.5 percent of Australia’s electricity being derived from renewable sources by 2020. Furthermore, it believes that country’s natural advantages in geography and climate means renewables have a good future in this market.

Eurus Energy’s formidable international presence and proud investment record in Australia lends credibility to the company’s assessment. The business now owns approximately 20 percent of all wind farms in Japan, and operates wind and solar power plants in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Eurus Energy entered the Australian market on a large scale in May 2012 by purchasing 100 percent of the Hallett 5 wind farm in South Australia from AGL. The 52.5MW wind farm produces enough electricity to supply over 26,000 households. AGL continues to operate and maintain the facility, and retains the rights to all Large-scale generation certificates and electricity output until 2036.

A sound partnership

Eurus Energy continued exploring other potential investments and partnered with Australian’s leading international wind energy development company Windlab to establish the 19.8MW Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm in Victoria. Building on the success of this project, the business has continued working with the same partner to deliver the first stage of the ground-breaking Kennedy Energy Park project in northern Queensland.

The Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm has demonstrated the value of multinationals like Eurus Energy partnering with local businesses to maximise opportunities in the Australian market. Windlab is an Australian owned, public unlisted company with wholly owned subsidiaries in Canada, South Africa and the United States. Windlab owns and exclusively uses a world leading atmospheric modelling and wind energy assessment technology developed by the CSIRO to identify and build a portfolio of high quality wind farm sites in several countries. The business counts leading Australian venture capital firms Innovation Capital and Lend Lease Ventures among its shareholders.

An innovative ownership structure

The relationship between Windlab and Eurus Energy has already borne fruit. Windlab developed the Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm using an innovative, open and transparent community engagement model. Part of this model involved granting many in the local community an ownership stake in the project. At financial close Eurus became the major investor in this project and was very pleased to embrace this novel approach to community engagement. Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm is now owned by Windlab, Eurus Energy and the landholders. Windlab describes Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm as “the first renewable energy project that involves the local farming community in this way.”

Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm started commercial operations in April 2016 and Windlab proudly declared at the time that the project was “currently providing the cheapest wind power in the country.” The scheme won plaudits, including a Clean Energy Council Award. Council chief executive Kane Thornton says: “Windlab’s community ownership program at Coonooer Bridge in Victoria has allowed those living near wind farms to have a collective sense of ownership of the project and help to make the company a part of the local community… And at the time the tariff rate negotiated made it the cheapest energy in Australia.”

With Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm operating successfully, Eurus Energy and Windlab have also established a joint venture to invest in a leading-edge renewable energy park in North Queensland. Being built near Hughenden, the first phase of the Kennedy Energy Park comprises solar, wind and battery storage energy sources.

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht has described Kennedy Energy Park as “the first time a combined large-scale solar, wind and battery installation has connected to Australia’s national market.”

According to Windlab, wind will generate electricity both day and night while solar power will be generated as needed when the sun shines. Battery storage will smooth out the delivery of power from both sources to ensure reliable, consistent supply.

Eurus Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Hideyuki Inazumi says Kennedy Energy Park is a cutting-edge utility-scale renewable project utilising wind, solar photovoltaic and battery storage in the context of Australia, but also in global markets.