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John Laing eyes Aussie renewables ramp-up

The UK firm is looking to make significant investments Down Under on the back of policy changes and cost reductions in the solar market.

John Laing plans to make two to three investments in utility-scale renewable energy in Australia every year, according to a senior executive at the firm. 

Peter Munns, who leads John Laing’s primary renewables investments in Asia Pacific, told Infrastructure Investor that it would seek to deploy “a significant total” of capital in the Australian renewable energy market on an annual basis. He said the firm did not have a fixed investment target, with market conditions and investment opportunities key factors in how much capital would be deployed in a given year. 

While wind power has long been the cheapest technology for large-scale development, Munns noted, solar is becoming more competitive. He added that the sector would be an area in which John Laing will seek to expand. 

The firm invested in the stages 1 and 2 of the 315MW Hornsdale wind farm in August 2015. It also backed the 30MW Kiata wind farm for A$32.6 million ($24.7 million; €22.7 million) early this month.

The firm has been active in the Australian PPP market since 2010, with four investments currently held in the rail and social infrastructure sectors. Munns said the firm thought of growing its renewables business in Australia after the market picked up on the back of supportive policies passed by the federal and state government in 2015. 

The national Renewable Energy Target calls for the country to have at least 20 percent of its electricity generated from renewable sources by 2020. The Australian Capital Territory launched its renewables scheme in 2015, followed by the Victorian state, while New South Wales is expected to establish its own programme in near future. 

Established in 2012 to support the country’s renewables sector, the government-run Australian Renewable Energy Agency also provides funding to the development of renewables projects, particularly solar.