BlackRock expands its global renewables strategy into Australia

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BlackRock Real Assets has made its first investment in Australia’s renewable energy market, acquiring a majority stake in a Queensland solar energy project from Edify Energy.

BlackRock is to take a 90% stake in two solar farms, with a combined capacity of 200 megawatts. The value of the investment has not been disclosed.

BlackRock said the assets have been acquired through a private fund managed by BlackRock Real Assets that focuses on global wind and solar assets.

Last month, IPE Real Estate reported that it had raised US$1.65bn (€1.4bn) for what it said was the world’s largest renewable energy fund.

The 150-megawatt Daydream and 50-megawatt Hayman solar farms are ready for construction and expected to be operational in 2018.

Edify Energy, which will maintain a 10% stake, will develop the project and provide long-term asset management services.

The transaction is one of the largest solar portfolio financings to date in the Australian market, BlackRock said.

Long-term debt finance to the project, believed to be around AUD90m (€60m), will be provided by Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and the French bank, Natixis.

Charlie Reid, portfolio manager on the BlackRock Renewable Power investment team, said: “The acquisition adds further solar resource and country diversification to our global platform and our existing renewable power portfolio.”

Earlier this week, BlackRock announced that it had invested in the debt of an operational solar project in Spain owned and operated by Solaria Energía y Medio Ambiente.

BlackRock has invested in more than 90 solar projects globally over the past few years, representing 1,056 megawatts of capacity and generating enough renewable energy annually to power more than 340,000 homes.

Jim Barry, global head of BlackRock Real Assets, said BlackRock’s investment in renewable power projects currently amounts to more than US$4.8bn in equity assets under management.

He said the move into Australia was a key part of the firm’s long-term renewable power strategy. BlackRock would continue to invest in attractive markets in order to provide a flow of “addressable investment opportunities” for its clients, he added.

John Cole, Edify Energy’s managing director, said the project represents the next stage of Edify’s plan to build an integrated clean-energy business in Australia.

This includes pursuing a range of other energy-related opportunities, such as energy storage. Cole described the partnership with BlackRock Real Assets as a “real coup”.

He said: “It is a major step forward towards mainstreaming solar renewable power in Australia.”

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