Quinbrook to ‘repower’ ageing California wind project

The firm’s US developer, Scout Clean Energy, was chosen to modernise the Gonzaga Ridge facility and increase its capacity from 16.5MW to up to 80MW at a cost of $100m.

California selected a subsidiary of clean energy investment manager Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners to modernise an ageing wind project.

Scout Clean Energy, acquired by Quinbrook last May, won the rights to “repower” the Gonzaga Ridge Wind Farm in central California. The wind developer said it will build, own and operate the Gonzaga project under a long-term lease and will increase the site’s capacity from 16.5MW to between 65MW and 80MW.

Wind turbine technology has vastly improved since the Gonzaga project was built in the 1980s, and Quinbrook and Scout are investing in the opportunity to revamp such sites across the US. Modernising the site’s turbines will cost around $100 million, Quinbrook co-founder David Scaysbrook said, but that could be more if plans go through to add battery storage to the project.

“We hope to set a new and important precedent for unlocking more renewable power from recycling older existing wind power sites,” said Michael Rucker, Scout chief executive.

Quinbrook’s purchase of Scout last year was in part to make the company its US-based wind developer as the firm builds out a portfolio of clean energy assets in the country, in Australia and the UK. Scaysbrook said Scout winning the Gonzaga modernisation bid was a “surprise bonus” of the acquisition.

Quinbrook invested through its inaugural fund, the Low Carbon Power Fund, for this deal. The fund is raising between $1 billion and $1.5 billion and will conclude fundraising by the end of this year.

The firm was founded as a clean energy investment manager by David Scaysbrook and Rory Quinlan, who both left Switzerland-based Capital Dynamics in 2015 and previously managed renewables company Novera Energy. The firm’s focus is on developing new low-carbon power generation projects.

In January, Quinbrook announced an investment in six operating US wind projects generating a combined 223MW to anchor its presence in the US clean energy market.