A leading manager of Australian infrastructure assets, Lighthouse Infrastructure Management, has announced a push into the solar market in yet another sign that Australian solar projects are becoming a mainstream investment.
Lighthouse, which managed some $2 billion of projects in the transport, energy and social infrastructure sectors, says it will seek to raise $100 million for its first Lighthouse Solar Fund, which will target large and household solar investments.
Lighthouse founder and managing director Mitch King said that the solar industry shares many similarities with the early years of infrastructure investment in Australia.
“Investors will, in addition to earning commercial returns, powerfully apply their capital to achieve long term environmental and social benefits, accelerating Australia’s transition towards a lower carbon society” King said in a statement.
The move by Lighthouse is believed to be one of many being proposed by various investment funds, including some from the UK, which has seen the most activity in the solar market in recent years, thanks to feed-in-tariffs which have since been withdrawn by the Conservative government.
It also follows the first ever asset backed “climate bond” in Australia that saw consumer credit company Flexigroup raise $50 million for investment in solar leasing.
The Lighthouse fund will be raised over two investment offer periods and will invest in a variety of solar PV systems and contracts with utility, government, commercial and industrial and residential customers.
King said the solar market in Australia was now worth $2 billion a year, and was offering commercial returns, and the potential for a market re-rating as the sector matures.
King said the Fund has identified a significant pipeline of opportunities in Australia that is expected to meet the Fund’s investment criteria.
It may also help unlock financing which has been absent from the industry to date, although that in turn has been due to the lack of contracts being signed by utilities and others interested in investing in solar.
Giles Parkinson is a journalist of 30 years experience, a former Business Editor and Deputy Editor of the Financial Review, a columnist for The Bulletin magazine and The Australian, and the former editor of Climate Spectator.