John Laing invests in 30MW Aussie wind farm

The $25m acquisition marks the UK firm’s third investment in the Australian wind market, which has started to restore momentum thanks to supportive policies.

John Laing has acquired a majority stake in a 30MW wind farm in Victoria, Australia, from its project developer Windlab for A$32.6 million ($25 million; €22 million). 

The London-headquartered infrastructure firm now owns a 72.3 percent equity stake in the facility while Windlab retains a 25 percent interest. The remainder belongs to 24 local landowners. 

With an investment cost of A$75 million, the Kiata wind farm achieved financial close yesterday thanks to John Laing’s equity investment and a loan facility of up to A$50 million provided by the National Australia Bank. 

The project is underpinned by a 10-year offtake agreement, signed in June, with the Victorian state. “The Victorian Government innovative supply agreement scheme for the procurement of Large-Scale Generation Certificates has played an important role in re-vitalising the wind industry after a period of decline resulting from federal policy uncertainty,” said Roger Price, chief executive of the Canberra-based developer. 

In 2015, wind farms accounted for 33.7 percent of the country’s clean energy production and 4.9 percent of Australia’s electricity output, according to the Clean Energy Council. The industry body argued wind power was the lowest-cost renewable energy technology which can be rolled out on a large scale. It added that it would likely be the technology that would benefit most from Australia’s national Renewable Energy Target, which requires at least 20 percent of total supply to be sourced from renewables by 2020. 

Windlab will continue to manage the Kiata project, while Vestas will be the EPC contractor and wind turbine supplier. The construction is expected to be completed by end of next year.

The transaction marks the third move made by John Laing in the Australian wind market after it invested in South Australia’s Hornsdale Wind Farm Stages 1 and 2 in August 2015. Last month, the firm also debuted in the US renewable energy market with a $20.5 million wind investment in New Mexico. 

John Laing said it had £2.5 billion in assets under management and 39 current investments including 21 projects under construction, as of June 2016. Renewables projects account for 18.6 percent of its £945 million portfolio, it noted.