Palisade builds Australia’s largest private solar farm

The plant is set to provide 35% of the power required by Darwin Airport, allowing the fund manager to recoup initial investment costs after seven years.

Sydney-based Palisade Investment Partners will soon be able to partly power an airport it owns in the northern Australian city of Darwin with a privately financed solar facility attached to the hub.

Upon completion, which is expected early this year, the 16,000-panel plant will cover 35 percent of the electricity needed by the airport. The project follows in the footsteps of a similar initiative at Palisade-owned Alice Springs Airport, where a A$1.9 million (€1.2 million; $1.3 million) solar farm already supplies the hub with 85 percent of its power.

Roger Lloyd, managing director and chief executive of Palisade, told Infrastructure Investor that it would take about seven years for the initial investment in the solar facility to be recouped. The $13 million project is expected to save about $1.5 million a year on the airport’s power bills, based on current peak tariff rates, according to a statement by Darwin Airport.

Once built, the 5.5-megawatt project will be the largest solar plant to be 100 percent privately financed in Australia, Lloyd said.

The facility’s design and development were led by CAT Projects, an indigenous-owned firm. Palisade is also partnering with the Northern Territory-based company on the Waterloo Wind Farm Stage 2, a $43 million project in South Australia it is funding jointly with Canada's Northleaf Capital Partners.

The news comes months after the firm established Palisade Asset Management, an in-house asset management company that will look to optimise operations at companies backed by Palisade. Lloyd expects the unit, which he defines as a cost-recovery centre, to employ more staff than the investment side of the business once all of Palisade’s assets are brought into it.

Palisade manages assets worth about A$2.2 billion, comprising A$1.4 billion of invested capital and A$750 million “seeking a home”, Lloyd said.